Sun, Mar 05, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Death toll from anti-Bush riots in India rises to four

AFP , LUCKNOW, INDIA

An unidentified man carries the body of 14-year-old Shanu, who died in riots in Lucknow, India, on Friday. Violence erupted in the area when protests against US President George W. Bush's visit to India turned into a clash between Hindus and Muslims.

PHOTO: EPA

The death toll from bloody riots in northern India sparked by US President George W. Bush's visit rose to four on Saturday but the situation was calm, an official said.

Twenty-three people were in hospital with injuries from Friday's clashes which turned into pitched street battles between Hindus and Muslim mobs in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state, the official said.

"The toll has gone up to four as 21-year-old Sunit Kumar succumbed to bullet injuries in hospital overnight," R.K. Mittal, a senior government official in Lucknow said.

Eight of the injured remained in serious condition, the official said.

Some of the mobs were armed with guns, sticks and firebombs.

Orders banning gatherings of more than five people in riot-hit areas continued for a second day yesterday. People were asked to stay indoors as police and paramilitary troops patrolled the streets.

Schools and offices remained shut. Annual examinations for students were canceled in violence-hit areas.

The clashes erupted when Muslims protesting the Bush visit asked Hindus in a commercial district to close their shops and the traders resisted.

Rioters hurled stones at shops, smashed vehicle windscreens and set fire to property as the two sides clashed.

"It started all of a sudden. A few people started pelting stones at shops, while others reached there with hockey sticks and smashed window panes," Rohit Singh, a shopper hit by a bullet in his leg, said. "Before we could realize what was happening, someone opened fire."

Police used tear gas to subdue the crowd.

Trader Asfaq-ullah escaped the mob fury, but his shop did not.

"I was closing my garment shop when someone threw a petrol bomb. In a few minutes my shop was engulfed in flames. I lost every-thing," he said, crying.

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