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Friday, 1 March, 2002, 12:44 GMT
Eyewitness: Bloodshed in Gujarat
Mobs burn materials in the streets of the Asarva area in Ahmedabad
One man said Muslims had been left "defenceless"
Sriram Narayan has no idea where the bullet that ended up in his neck came from.

As victims of India's worst outbreak of Hindu-Muslim violence in 10 years - some with horrific injuries - arrived in the chaotic casualty room of Ahmedabad's Janvandri Hospital, Sriram Narayan described a pitched battle in which doctors say 13 people died.

The riot was triggered when a policeman was pulled off his bike by a mob and burned alive, he told the French news agency AFP.

Youths burn vehicles and debris on a street of Ahmedabad
Rioters are armed with guns, knives and iron bars
"Then a van-load of Muslims came to the area and started burning shops, after which everything just went mad," he said.

"There were people fighting everywhere. I have no idea how I got shot."

Other eyewitnesses were reported as saying that over 2,000 Hindus and Muslims had set upon each other with guns, knives and hockey sticks in the city's Babunagar district.

"It's terrifying. Even the women are carrying weapons," said one witness.

A doctor said the hospital was treating 75 people hurt in the riot.

"Some of the injured have bullet wounds, while others have been stabbed or even attacked with acid," he said.

Burned alive

Reports said angry Hindus armed with iron rods and cans of kerosene roamed the streets of Ahmedabad and other nearby towns, attacking Muslims in their homes, shops and vehicles.

Shop owner Patel fights the flames after a wood market was set ablaze in Ahmedabad
Shops, homes and businesses were attacked
JS Bandukwala, a Muslim and human rights activist in Ahmedabad, told the Associated Press that Hindus had "lobbed burning rags and pelted stones" at his house before his Hindu neighbours took him to safety.

And a former lawmaker, Ehsan Jefri, was dragged from his home and burned alive by rioters after he shot at them as they attacked his house, the news agency reported.

Haroon Jawahir said people in a Muslim area of the city were left "defenceless" on Thursday.

"The government was not there, the police were not there," he told Reuters news agency.

"From noon to eight, there was mayhem here. We kept on calling the police, the fire brigade. The police came, and they told us 'you stay inside'," he said.

Elsewhere in the city, dozens of people were burnt to death when about 300 Hindus torched a Muslim-dominated shantytown in the early hours of Friday morning, police said.

"We have recovered 27 charred bodies. The people were asleep when the incident happened," Deputy Police Commissioner PB Gondya said.

'Defenceless'

In a separate incident, police said residents trapped in six homes set alight by Hindus made frantic calls to firefighters, who were delayed more than six hours by road blockades in the city.

At least 38 people were burned to death in the attack on an affluent residential district, including 12 children, the Associated Press reported.

The riots began with attacks on Muslims as angry Hindus sought to avenge the deaths of 58 Hindus who burned to death on a train in an arson attack blamed on Muslims.

But police said on Friday that the nature of the violence had shifted to "group clashes".

See also:

01 Mar 02 | South Asia
Indian troops try to stop bloodshed
26 Feb 02 | South Asia
Vajpayee firm on Ayodhya
25 Feb 02 | South Asia
Militants converge on Ayodhya
14 Feb 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: India
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