Page last updated at 18:40 GMT, Tuesday, 26 August 2008 19:40 UK

Riots grip India's Orissa region

By Sandeep Sahu
BBC News, Bhubaneshwar

Smoke rises from the rubble of a Christian orphanage destroyed in Orissa
A Christian orphanage was devastated on Monday

Four people have been killed in armed clashes that broke out between Hindus and Christians in the Indian state of Orissa at the weekend.

Now a total of at least eight persons have been killed in the spiralling communal violence sparked by the killing of an eminent Hindu leader.

Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati was killed on Saturday night.

Seven of the eight deaths have taken place in Kandhamal district, the epicentre of the communal upheaval.

The incident took place at Barakhama village in the afternoon as rival groups attacked each other with guns and bombs. Those killed in the clash included a woman.

Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said: "Four bodies were found at the scene of the clash at Barakhama. But the identity of the deceased is yet to be established."

Making a statement on the incident in the State Assembly, Mr Patnaik said a small contingent of police personnel present there had done "its best but could not prevent the violence".

Reinforcements have now been rushed in and the situation brought under control, he said.

The chief minister announced compensation of 200,000 Rupees ($5,000) for the next-of-kin of those killed in the violence.

Hindu woman burnt

Two people were burnt to death in Tiangia village in the district after rioters set fire to their houses last night.

Swami Laxamananda
Swami Saraswati - killed on Saturday

One person had been burnt to death at Rupagaon village on Sunday night.

Arson and burning of Christian religious places continued on Tuesday in Kandhamal despite a curfew in all major towns and prohibitory orders in force throughout the district.

Even a Flag March by paramilitary forces did not deter the rioters, who went on a rampage setting fire to churches, vehicles and government facilities.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the woman who was burnt to death in an orphanage in Bargarh district yesterday was a Hindu.

"We have verified the antecedents of the woman and found that she was a Hindu," Sambalpur DIG YB Khurania said.

Initial reports had suggested that she was a nun.

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