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Last Updated:  Thursday, 3 April, 2003, 21:12 GMT 22:12 UK
Bodies found after Assam attack
More than 20 bodies have been found in India's northeastern state of Assam after villagers said they were attacked by militants.

Soldiers in Assam
Indian security forces: Trying to curb separatism
According to police, members of the Dimasa tribe were killed when their village was attacked by Hmar tribal militants.

The bodies were recovered from near a mountain in southern Assam.

Over the past week militants from the Dimasa tribe have been attacking Hmar villagers, who are now undertaking reprisal attacks, say the authorities.

More than 500 Hmar people have been displaced as a result of the violence.

Kidnapped

On Monday night, large numbers of armed Hmar militants attacked two Dimasa-dominated villages in southern Assam.

Police say they set fire to hundreds of houses in the villages of Chekarjan and Meghnarthal and kidnapped more than 20 villagers.

On Wednesday, police said they recovered 22 bodies from near a mountain that divides the two villages.

Dimasa villagers say there are other people from the two villages still missing and police are continuing to search for more bodies.

The Hmar militants have said their actions are in retaliation for the attacks against their people by Dimasa militants last week and earlier this week.

Police say the Dimasa villagers attacked at least seven villages in the North Cachar Hill district of Assam last week forcing more than 500 Hmar villagers to flee to southern Assam.

ULFA attacks

This displacement upset the Hmar people in southern Assam, who began attacking the Dimasas in places where they were a minority, especially amongst the mountain villages dominated by the Hmar tribals.

Meanwhile, militants of the leading separatist group in Assam - the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) - have attacked a liquid petroleum gas bottling plant on the outskirts of the state capital Guwahati.

Police said the ULFA militants fired rocket-propelled grenades at the bottling plant but police said no damage was done as the grenades failed to hit their target.

The ULFA chairman, Arabinda Rajkhowa, said earlier that Indian security forces would be attacked throughout Assam, as the group was determined to continue its fight for independence.


SEE ALSO:
Rebels bomb Assam refinery
08 Mar 03  |  South Asia
Blast derails India train
20 Jan 03  |  South Asia
Rocket attack kills two in Assam
25 Dec 02  |  South Asia
Assam militants 'ready for peace'
13 Aug 02  |  South Asia
Country Profile: India
28 Feb 03  |  Country profiles


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