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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 September, 2004, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
India nun attacks trigger arrests
By Sunil Raman
BBC, Bangalore

Mother Superior Kusumam of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity order sits on a hospital bed in Calicut in the Indian state of Kerala after being attacked along with other members of the order
The nuns were delivering food when they were attacked
Police in the southern Indian state of Kerala have detained 15 people following two attacks on nuns and priests of the Missionaries of Charity.

The three priests and six nuns were reportedly attacked in separate incidences on the outskirts of Kozhikode on Saturday.

A representative of Indian Christians has blamed the attacks on members of right-wing Hindu political parties.

Kerala's chief minister has promised to act against those responsible.

'Slow response'

The national convenor of the Bangalore-based Global Council for Indian Christians Sajan K George said members of the right-wing Hindu parties Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were behind the attack.

Mr George said the attackers had raised banners with slogans in favour of RSS and BJP when they attacked the nuns, accusing them of converting Dalit Hindus.

He also said state officials had been slow in responding to such incidents and last month's murder of a Christian priest is yet to be solved.

This is the first instance of attacks on nuns in Kerala.

The first incident took place on Saturday morning when two nuns visited a slum on the outskirts of Kozhikode.

They had carried food for slum people, mostly Dalits, who live in extreme poverty.

They were allegedly pulled out of the jeep and the crosses they wore around their necks were allegedly broken.

Action pledged

They managed to escape after slum people intervened.

They took refuge in a police station and informed their colleagues of the incident.

An hour later, another jeep belonging to Missionaries of Charity carrying Mother Superior Kusumam and six others, including a Kenyan missionary, arrived at the slum where they were allegedly surrounded and attacked by 40 people carrying iron rods.

Nine missionaries were admitted to a local hospital with head injuries.

The assailants managed to escape after the attack.

Chief Minister Oomen Chandy has said he will take stern action against those behind the attacks.

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