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Army deployed in Assam as violence leaves 31 dead

New Delhi, May 3, 2014

India deployed troops to the state of Assam on Saturday after 31 Muslims were gunned down in three days of what police said were attacks by tribal militants who resent the presence of immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.

The unrest in the tea-growing state comes towards the end of a marathon election across India that has heightened ethnic and religious divisions and which the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) looks set to win.

Security forces found the bodies of nine people with bullet wounds on Saturday, six of them women and children, the third day of violence that police have blamed on Bodo tribesmen attacking Muslim settlers as punishment for opposing their candidate in the election to the Indian parliament.

Bodo people are followers of the local Bathouist religion.

"We are scared to live in our village, unless security is provided by the government," said Anwar Islam, a Muslim who had come to buy food in Barama, a town about 30 km from the villages in the Baksa district where the violence erupted on Thursday and Friday.

He said men armed with rifles had come to his village, Masalpur, on bicycles and had then fired indiscriminately and set huts on fire.

Bodo representatives say many of the Muslims in Assam are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh who encroach on ancestral Bodo lands. In 2012, clashes erupted in which dozens of people were killed and 400,000 fled their homes.

In addition to that violence, Assam has a history of sectarian strife and armed groups fighting for greater autonomy or secession from India.-Reuters




Tags: India | Troops | Assam |

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