Thousands flee violence in India's Assam, 19 killed
By Biswajyoti Das
GUWAHATI, India (Reuters) - Thousands of people have fled their homes in India's northeastern Assam state after fighting between indigenous tribes and Muslim settlers killed at least 19 people, wounded many more, and left villages in flames, police said on Monday.
Police were forced to fire warning shots to disperse armed groups that were moving between jungle hamlets on Monday, setting fire to bamboo houses, police and aid workers in the area told Reuters. Soldiers and federal paramilitary forces were patrolling remote districts.
"We saw miscreants burning down village after village on Monday," said a senior police officer who asked not to be identified. "It's total madness going on here. People have lost their senses."
S.N.Singh, Assam's inspector general of police, told Reuters he had ordered his men to shoot at gangs on the streets on sight after a dawn-to-dusk curfew was imposed to stop the violence spreading.
Ringed by China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan, India's northeast is home to more than 200 ethnic and tribal groups and has been racked by separatist revolts since India's independence from Britain in 1947.
In recent years, Hindu and Christian tribes have begun to give vent to strong anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment against Bangladeshi settlers.
VIOLENCE TRIGGERED BY KILLINGS
The latest wave of violence was sparked on Friday night when unidentified men killed four youths in the state's Bodo tribe- dominated Kokrajhar district near the borders of Bangladesh and Bhutan, police and district officials said. Continued...