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25,000 flee clashes between Bodo tribes and Muslim settlers

July 23, 2012

GUWAHATI, (India): About 25,000 villagers fled their homes in northeast India during clashes between Bodo tribal groups and Muslim settlers in which 15 people have been killed, police said today.

Soldiers were also out in force in the restive state of Assam in an effort to quell further violence that has led to many villagers moving to nearby government shelters to avoid the fighting over land rights.

“Clashes that broke out on Friday night have so far claimed the lives of 15 people and about 12 (were) injured,” said SN Singh, Assam inspector general of police.

“The situation is tense and hence tight security measures are being taken to instil confidence and restore normal life in the area. About 25,000 people have gone to government-run shelters.”

The fighting, the latest outbreak of violence over long-running territorial disputes between the Bodo and Muslim settlers, erupted in western regions of Assam close to the borders with Bhutan and Bangladesh.

During bouts of unrest, many people from both communities – particularly women and children – seek safety in nearby schools and government offices. They are guarded by soldiers and food is provided.

“There is some panic and people are moving to safer areas apprehending retaliatory attacks,” said Kampa Borgoyary, deputy chief of the Bodoland Territorial Council, a local government organisation.

Assam has been the scene of decades of friction between a large number ethnic and separatist groups, though some of the biggest rebel movements have recently started peace talks with the government.

-AFP


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