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5 Muslims Burned to Death in India

April 3, 2002

AHMADABAD, India (AP) _ A Hindu mob set fire to three houses in western India, burning to death five members of a Muslim family, including two women and a child, and injuring dozens more, police said Wednesday.

News of the deaths came a day before Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was to visit troubled western Gujarat state. Officials said that 815 people have died in five weeks of Hindu-Muslim violence in the region.

The attack took place late Tuesday, when a huge mob of Hindus set fire to the houses in Abhasana village, 50 miles from Ahmadabad, said police superintendent Vikas Sahay. Some 42 Muslims in the houses suffered burns, he added.

The violence in Gujarat began Feb. 27 when a Muslim crowd burned a train car carrying Hindu activists, killing 58 people. Hindu mobs killed hundreds of Muslims in retaliation.

The army has been called in to help police restore order, but new incidents of Hindu-Muslim violence have occurred almost daily.

The roots of the violence in Gujarat lie in the Hindu-Muslim dispute over a religious site in the ancient town of Ayodhya. Hindu fundamentalists want to build a temple on the site of a 16th century mosque that they razed in 1992. Muslims want to rebuild the mosque on the same site.

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