Indian ethics suspected in killing 22 and burning down 350 homes

Rival ethnic militias are suspected of shooting and hacking to death 22 people and burning down 350 homes in India's remote northeast since violence erupted in the region over the weekend, police said Monday.

About 5,000 people have fled the violence in Assam state's Bagmari region, taking refuge in government-run camps, said D.D. Tripathi, a Bagmari civil administration official. The army rushed to the area to try to prevent further attacks, he said.

The violence began early Saturday when nearly 150 assailants opened fire on sleeping villagers from the Karbi tribe in Assam state's Bagmari region, killing eight people in an attack blamed on Dimasa tribe members.

On Sunday, a second wave of assaults killed nine Karbi tribe members, and 200 homes were torched in a cluster of about a dozen hamlets, Tripathi said. He said the killers wore green uniforms, and were suspected to be Dimasa tribesmen.

In a retaliatory attack Monday, a Karbi mob armed with machetes and guns rampaged through the Dimasi-dominated village of Kheroni, killing five people and setting about 150 houses ablaze, a police officer said on customary condition of in Diphu, the district headquarters.

Bagmari is 300 kilometers (190 miles) south of Assam's capital, Gauhati.

The Karbi and Dimasa tribes have been engaged in a long-standing feud.

The two are among dozens of ethnic groups battling for control of territory in the jungles and villages of India's remote northeastern states.

The groups are also separately fighting India's federal government, seeking independence or greater political autonomy.


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