40 killed in Bombay riots

New Delhi - The Indian army was called out in Bombay after 40 people died and hundreds were injured during two days of pitched riots between Muslims and Hindus. A curfew was imposed in seven districts of Bombay after a mob raided a shanty town, set fire to shacks and stabbed at least 10 people to death who were trying to escape from the blaze, writes Tim McGirk.

Police said the outburst of violence in Bombay followed 'a definite pattern'. Another 30 people were killed in stabbings around the city. Tensions between Hindus and Muslims had been festering in Bombay since early December when the demolition of a mosque in northern India by Hindu extremists ignited religious strife around the country in which more than 900 people died. In Bombay alone more than 200 were killed.

The city has a volatile mix of Muslim underworld gangs and Hindu neo-fascists. The latest fighting erupted after two port workers were stabbed to death, and the violence quickly spread to mixed Hindu-Muslim neighbourhoods.

The army was also dispatched to Ahmedabad, the Gujarati state capital, where at least 11 people were killed yesterday and another 80 injured in religious clashes.