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Thursday, 17 February, 2000, 16:57 GMT
Eight dead in Bihar poll violence

campaign rally The state elections are taking place in stages


At least eight people have been killed and about a dozen injured in the second stage of voting in elections in the Indian state of Bihar.

Three people were killed in Raghopur district, where the state's flamboyant former chief minister, Laloo Prasad Yadav, is a candidate.

Police said they died in a clash between supporters of two political parties - the governing Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Janata Dal United.

A man was killed in Shaikhpura after soldiers of a paramilitary force opened fire on a group of people trying to capture a polling booth.

Another man died in the same constituency in a clash between rival parties.

Arrests

Three others were reported killed in Nalanda, Jamui and Mashraq.

However police said that a man reported killed earlier in Siwan constituency was still alive.

About 500 people were arrested after clashes between supporters of rival parties.

Shoot-on-sight orders were issued for the second phase after 17 people were killed in landmine blasts during the first round at the weekend.

Maoist guerrillas, who were responsible for most of Saturday's killings, have threatened violence against anyone ignoring their call for an election boycott in Bihar, India's second most populated state.

Police have also tightened security in Bihar for the third and final round of polling on 22 February.

Troops

Despite the violence, Bihar police chief KA Jacob said polling was relatively "peaceful" compared to the first leg of voting on Saturday.

"It is so far quite peaceful because we have deployed sufficient security personnel to prevent a repeat of last Saturday's bloodletting," said the police chief.

More than 30,000 paramilitary troops backing the state's 70,000-member police force were patrolling the state along with special squads to detect landmine booby-traps.

Voting 'thin'

Election officials said ballot papers were snatched and polling stations attacked at "20 other places," despite the heavy security. They described early turn-out as "thin".

Voting also began in 70 assembly seats in eastern Orissa state, where a powerful cyclone last October killed 10,000 people. Early turn-out was low in Orissa.

There was also an election for parliamentary seats in Bellary in Karnataka and Kanauj in Uttar Pradesh.

Turn-out was low for the Bellary seat which has been left vacant by Congress party President Sonia Gandhi.

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See also:
11 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Strict security for Bihar poll
20 Oct 99 |  South Asia
Indian parliament's inaugural session
16 Oct 99 |  South Asia
Vajpayee promises tolerance
08 Oct 99 |  South Asia
Analysis: Allies may hamper BJP
19 Oct 99 |  South Asia
Sonia to lead parliamentary opposition
11 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Guide to Indian state elections

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