Sun, Oct 19, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Christians reported killed in India

AFP , NEW DELHI AND ROME

At least 60 Christians have been killed over the past two months in eastern India in a brutal backlash to the murder of a revered Hindu holy man, a national bishops’ body said on Friday.

The figure is nearly double the official toll of 35 given by government authorities in the eastern state of Orissa.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India said scores of Christians were continuing to flee their homes in Orissa and called for action to stem the religious violence in the coastal state’s troubled Kandhamal district.

“Christians are afraid to return to their villages as threats of death have forced many of them to flee to the forest or to live in dehumanizing conditions,” the group said.

The comments came less than a week after Pope Benedict XVI renewed his condemnation of the attacks on Indian Christians.

There was no immediate reaction to the figures from Orissa state government officials.

The bishops’ group demanded a federal probe into the rape of a Catholic nun in Kandhamal, the epicenter of the violence.

An Italian Roman Catholic newspaper on Friday voiced new fears for the security of Christians in the eastern Indian state.

“The recent attacks against Christians may be only the first chapter in a program to completely eradicate Orissa’s Christianity,” warned Avvenire, the newspaper of Italy’s bishops.

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