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Wednesday, 3 April, 2002, 14:19 GMT 15:19 UK
Communal clashes flare in India
A Muslim man walks past destroyed houses near Ahmedabad
The clashes have claimed more than 700 lives
Fresh religious violence between Hindus and Muslims has claimed six more lives in the western Indian state of Gujarat.

The violence comes just a day before Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is due to visit the state, which has been hit by religious clashes over the past month.

More than 700 people, mostly Muslims, have died in the riots which erupted in late February when a Muslim mob attacked a train carrying Hindu activists, killing 58 people.

The Gujarat Government has been heavily criticised by India's national human rights commission for failing to prevent the violence.

Overnight attacks

The bodies of five Muslims - three men and two women - were found in a village near the state's commercial capital, Ahmedabad early on Wednesday morning.

A Muslim women with her child
Many people have been displaced by the violence
They were killed when their homes were set on fire in the village of Abasana.

Police found their charred remains in the ruins of the buildings. Four other Muslims were taken to hospital with burns.

In another incident a man was shot dead by police who were trying to control rioting between Hindus and Muslims in the village of Umbhrat.

In Ahmedabad, the scene of the worst violence over the past month, police opened fire to break up renewed fighting between mobs of Hindus and Muslims.

The Indian prime minister is due to visit Gujarat in the next 24 hours, to review efforts to control the outbreak of trouble and to look at measures to rehabilitate the thousands who have been forced from their homes.

Trouble spreads

In the past two days, disturbances have spread to the Kutch district in north-west Gujarat, which had been unaffected until now.

Violence has also broken out in the neighbouring state of Maharashtra.

In a separate development, a hardline Hindu leader has been barred by the authorities in the neighbouring Rajasthan from visiting a violence hit area in the state.

Praveen Togadia, general secretary of the hardline Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) has been asked to keep away from Ganaganagar, which was under curfew last week following tension between Hindus and Muslims.

See also:

01 Apr 02 | South Asia
Concern over Gujarat violence
24 Mar 02 | South Asia
Rights panel censures Gujarat
04 Mar 02 | South Asia
Eyewitness: Muslims under siege
05 Mar 02 | South Asia
Analysis: Why is Gujarat so violent?
06 Mar 02 | South Asia
Traumatised victims wait for help
02 Mar 02 | South Asia
Ravaged Ahmedabad limps back to life
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