Sun, Jan 09, 2011 - Page 4 News List

Tribal clashes in India leave 10 dead

AFP, GUWAHATI, INDIA

At least 10 people have been killed this week and up to 40,000 displaced by an upsurge of violence between two rival ethnic groups in India’s northeast, officials said yesterday.

The ongoing violence between the Rabha and Garo tribes who live along the border between India’s Assam and Meghalaya states was sparked by demands by the Garo tribe to have an autonomous local government council.

“Ten people have died in the ethnic clashes in the last three days and about 20 injured with rampaging mobs from both communities attacking each other,” Assam Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Bhumidhar Barman said.

According to local officials in Guwahati, India, Assam’s main city, an estimated 32,000 people had fled their homes and were taking shelter in playgrounds and government schools and office buildings.

In adjoining Meghalaya authorities said nearly 8,000 people had been displaced by the clashes.

The governments of the two states have opened relief camps to accommodate the displaced and were providing food, clothes and medicines to those who fled their homes for fear of attacks.

“We shall ensure that all relief material is provided to the people who have taken refuge in nearly a dozen makeshift shelters along both sides of the state border,” Barman said.

Authorities said there was a history of tension between the two groups and they had imposed a curfew in Assam’s Goalpara district and Meghalaya’s East Garo Hills district where the fighting took place.

“We have deployed hundreds of paramilitary and soldiers to prevent fresh violence,” said Luis Aind, who is a senior police officer in Assam.

Northeast India is home to dozens of tribal groups and small guerrilla armies that resist rule from New Delhi and are often opposed to one other.

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