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Nine Die in India Religious Clashes

May 9, 2002

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AHMADABAD, India (AP) _ Ignoring a 24-hour police curfew, Hindus and Muslims fought each other, looted and burned through the night, adding nine deaths to the toll of more than 900 in western India’s sectarian violence, police said Thursday.

Police sent to enforce a curfew in riotous neighborhoods of Ahmadabad, the largest city in troubled Gujarat state, could not stop the mobs from gathering on the streets to attack each other and destroy nearby shops and homes, officers said Thursday on condition of anonymity.

India’s worst religious violence in a decade has raged in Gujarat since the Feb. 27 burning of a train carrying Hindu activists and pilgrims. Sixty Hindus were burned alive, triggering a wave of reprisals by Hindu mobs who killed Muslims and burned down their homes and shops.

The official death toll since the fighting began is 935, but human rights groups and Western diplomats put the number at 2,000 to 3,000. Most of those killed have been Muslims.

The state government has been accused of condoning the reprisal killings. In the latest violence, Muslim gangs are fighting back and carrying out more attacks against Hindus.

The Ahmadabad neighborhoods of Vejalpur, Karanj, Juhapura and Kalupur have been under day and night curfew, but it has not stopped mobs from battling each other with iron rods, swords and light bulbs filled with acid, said M.K. Tandon, a commissioner of police.

This was primarily because many of the older districts had narrow, dark lanes that are inaccessible to police vehicles, he said.

On Wednesday, a resident of Radhey Park, an Ahmadabad suburb, was stabbed and burned alive by 20 men as he returned home from work, said B.S. Jebaliya, a deputy commissioner of police. The man was dead by the time police reached the site, he said.

In Aslali, on the outskirts of Ahmadabad, police found the bodies of two men with multiple stab wounds from swords. The bodies were yet to be identified, a duty officer at the Ahmadabad police control room said Thursday.

In Ahmadabad’s main V.S. Hospital, three people died Wednesday night of injuries they had suffered in clashes on Tuesday, a doctor in the hospital said on condition of anonymity.

In Baroda, 60 miles southeast of Ahmadabad, forest rangers found the bodies of three men, and DNA tests will be conducted to determine their identities, said Raju Bhargav, police superintendent of Panchmahals district.

Sixteen others died in Ahmadabad on Wednesday _ 14 people were killed in riots and police shot two more in the head as they tried to disperse mobs.

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