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 Monday, 27 January, 2003, 05:24 GMT
Indian rebels massacre villagers
Russian made T90 tanks recently acquired by the Indian army
Republic's Day celebrations were held amid tight security

Eleven Bengali settlers have been killed in India's northeastern state of Tripura when separatist insurgents fired indiscriminately on a village near the state's capital, Agartala.

Police said a group of 10 rebels entered the Bankimnagar village, about 20 kilometres (13 miles) from Agartala, just before midnight and fired from automatic weapons.

Three people died on the spot, while eight others succumbed to their injuries on the way to hospital.

Doctors said three more injured victims were in a serious condition and the death toll could rise.

The police blamed the outlawed National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) for the attack.

The incident comes after 11 insurgent groups in India's north-east had called for a boycott of the country's Republic Day celebrations on Sunday.

Violent attacks

The NLFT says it is fighting for Tripura's independence.

Tripura guerrillas at a conference
The rebels have targeted troops and Marxists

The rebels have been attacking Bengali settlers from Bangladesh who have now become the majority population in Tripura, outnumbering the state's indigenous tribespeople.

Elections to the Tripura state assembly are due next month, and the state's ruling left coalition alleges that the NLFT is supporting the opposition coalition of the Congress and the indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura.

So far, 16 people, including a policeman, have died in the rebel attacks in the frontier region on Sunday.

See also:

30 May 02 | South Asia
11 Feb 02 | South Asia
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21 May 00 | South Asia
23 Jan 01 | South Asia
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