Tribal guerrilla attack in India leaves at least 63 dead

The death of dozens of men, women and children has sparked angry confrontations with local authorities

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The Independent Online

An attack by tribal guerrillas in the northeast Indian state of Assam led to the death of at least 63 people and sparked angry demonstrations by locals unhappy with government inactivity on the issue of land and ethnic disputes in the region.

The state's chief minister, Tarun Gogoi, said rebels belonging to a faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland were behind the massacre.

These militants are fighting for a separate homeland for Bodo tribesman. They went on a killing spree on Tuesday in four attacks over the space of an hour, killing dozens of men, women and children.

The attacks targeted settlers known as Adivasi, a group that came to Assam over 100 years ago and work mainly on the state's famous tea plantations.

The Bodo tribe make up around 10 percent of Assam's 33 million people.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the attacks and the country's interior minister, Rajnath Singh, said he was planning to visit Assam very soon.

Kiren Rijiju, India's junior interior minister, told reporters, "This is a tragic incident that we cannot take lightly. The requirement is the confidence of the local people; the common people must be restored and we ensure that such incidents are not repeated again."

There is concern that further ethnic violence does not flare up in the region following the attacks. Angry Adivasis surrounded the police station in Sonitpur, near to where 26 people died, and attempted to attack the officers inside.

S.N. Singh, a top police official, said they opened fire on the crowed and three Adivasis died.

"We are trying to ensure that ethnic violence does not flare up," Singh said. 

Singh said that the Bodo rebels may been provoked by heavy losses they suffered recently as police intensified operations against the group.

A curfew was now been imposed in the area around the killings, along with a heavy police and paramilitary presence.

Additional reporting by the AP.