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Police: Hindu Mob Kills 38 Muslims

February 28, 2002

AHMADABAD, India (AP) _ A Hindu mob burned to death 38 Muslims in their homes as residents called for police and fire help that took hours to reach the neighborhood, a top police official said Thursday.

The deaths brought the toll in rioting throughout western Gujarat state on Thursday to at least 58 as Hindu mobs attacked Muslims in retaliation for a Muslim mob’s burning of a train on Wednesday, in which 58 people died, most of them Hindus.

``We have taken out 18 bodies,Joint Commissioner of Police M.K. Tandon told The Associated Press.

He said officers the bodies of 12 children and 10 adults still lying inside the smoldering remains of six bungalows in a Muslim pocket of the Hindu-dominated Meghaninagar neighborhood.

Officers at the city police control room said they had received several phone calls from a former member of Parliament, Ehsan Jefri, who also died in the fires.

Police said they arrived two hours after the phone calls and the Fire Brigade officers were delayed by more than six hours because of the road blockades the Hindu mobs had erected on the city streets.

``This happened due to mob violence and our men could not reach there on time. This is not an excuse but it is an extremely unfortunate incident,″ said Ahmadabad Police Commissioner P.C. Pandey.

In other parts of the city, police were seen standing in bunches, watching, as mobs looted and burned Muslim owned stores, hotels and restaurants.

The police said that the former Parliament member, Jefri of the opposition Congress party, had fired his licensed revolver into the air to disperse a mob of some 200 people who had gathered around the bungalows.

The mob swelled to 2,000 and stoned the houses, then poured kerosene on them and set them on fire, said P.B. Gondya, the deputy commissioner of police.

(rs/lak)

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