x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Thousands flee Assam clashes as toll rises

Authorities imposed a curfew and federal troops have moved into remote areas to deal with threats of further violence.

GUWAHATI // The death toll from clashes in Assam state between indigenous tribes and Muslim settlers has risen to at least 19, including a six-month-old baby, police said yesterday.

Authorities imposed a curfew and federal troops have moved into remote areas to deal with threats of further violence.

About 50,000 villagers had fled their homes and taken shelter in relief camps out of fear, said Donald Gilfellon, a senior civil servant in the Kokrajhar district.

There are currently 37 camps for the refugees and more would be opened if needed, he added.

The violence was sparked by the murder of four youths by unidentified men on Friday night in Bodo tribe-dominated Kokrajhar, police said.

In retaliation, armed Bodos attacked Muslims, suspecting them to be responsible. Police said groups set fire to houses, schools and vehicles and indiscriminately fired automatic weapons in populated areas.

The body of the six-month-old child was found by villagers on Sunday beside a river along with the body of a woman, police said.

Businesses, offices and schools remained closed yesterday .

"We can't think of going back home," said Hiranya Musaharay, who fled the violence. "Our village is vulnerable to attacks and the government failed to give us protection."