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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 May, 2003, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
Arrests follow India village massacre

By Charles Haviland
BBC correspondent in southern India

More than 60 people are under arrest in a south Indian fishing village, after nine fishermen were killed and more than 20 people injured in a sectarian attack.

The victims, who have died in the past two days since Friday's attack in the state of Kerala, were all Hindus.

The Kerala Chief Minister, AK Antony, is visiting the village to try to broker peace.

Police remain on high alert in the hamlet of Marad near the city of Calicut.

Weapons 'seized'

They say the carnage on the beach there was the result of a well-planned attack, using lethal weapons.

Among the dead was a man about to celebrate his marriage.

Two women are among those injured. Of more than 60 people arrested, 40 were held after a raid on a mosque from which weapons were also seized, including 17 bombs.

Marad had been tense since January last year, when five people, including four Muslims, died in communal violence.

Calm shattered

Local sources say the new incident appears to have been a revenge attack on Hindus.

It has shattered the calm which local peace-making organisations had helped promote.

The Kerala coast has a volatile mix of Muslim, Hindu and Christian fishing communities, most very poor and living virtually on top of each other.

Competition between them is heightened by dwindling fish stocks and they no longer share the same boats.

The violence took place in a Muslim majority area, but one in which the Hindu nationalist movement, the RSS, is also strong.

As police try to damp down tensions, a home affairs minister from Delhi is due to visit Marad on Monday.

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