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Rebels Kill 12 in Northeast India

April 15, 2000

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ Separatist guerrillas swooped down on a village in remote northeast India Saturday, killing at least 12 people and seriously wounding seven others, Press Trust of India news agency said. The attack was apparently linked to local elections scheduled for later this month.

Some 25 heavily armed rebels stormed Khas Kalyanpur, a village in Tripura state, and set fire to several houses and shops. They opened gunfire as the villagers came out of their homes and tried to flee, the news agency quoted an army officer as saying.

The attackers also kidnapped three villagers after looting their homes, United News of India news agency said.

The separatists are apparently trying scare residents of the village, 950 miles southeast of New Delhi, before elections later this month.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack. But police blamed the National Liberation Front of Tripura for the killings.

Separatist rebels have been fighting the government for decades for a homeland for the people who are native to the area, and conflicts have been frequent between locals and people who have moved in from other regions of the northeast.

The locals say new settlers control the economy and force cultural changes among its people. Much of the resentment is also directed against the federal government, which is trying to crush the uprising by deploying army and paramilitary soldiers.

Some 10,000 people have been killed in the fighting.

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