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Page last updated at 08:35 GMT, Monday, 22 September 2008 09:35 UK

More Karnataka churches attacked

A church attacked by a mob in Karnataka on 14 September 2008
The attacks have been blamed on radical Hindu groups

Two more churches have been vandalised in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, police say.

Unidentified men damaged the churches in Bangalore city, police said. Stones were thrown at another place of worship in Kodagu, 240km (149 miles) away.

Police officials said seven people have been arrested in connection with the Bangalore attacks.

In the past week, more than 20 churches have been desecrated by the Hindu hardline group Bajrang Dal.

The group's leader in the state Mahendra Kumar has been arrested.

He has admitted his group carried out attacks on churches in the state, saying Hindus were being illegally converted to Christianity in the area.

Christian leaders have denied the charge and said that the state's governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was inciting violence instead of calming the tense situation in the state.

Christians say lower-caste Hindus convert willingly to escape the Hindu caste system.

Advisory

The state's Chief Minster, BS Yeddyurappa, under attack from opposition parties as well as Christians for failing to prevent acts of vandalism, has called a high-level security meeting.

The latest attacks have led to calls for the imposition of federal rule in Karnataka.

Last week, the Indian government issued an advisory to the state government to ensure that anti-Christian violence was stopped.

Christian leaders, led by an MP from Bangalore, HT Sangliana, have criticised the government for its failure to rein in radical Hindu groups who have taken to violence in the name of fighting conversions.

The BJP government has denied the charge and said more than 270 people, including Mahendra Kumar, have been arrested.

Recent anti-Christian violence in Karnataka - and in the eastern state of Orissa - have led to calls for a ban on Bajrang Dal and another militant Hindu organisation, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP, World Hindu Council).

Orissa has seen anti-Christian violence for several weeks now.

At least 20 people - most of them Christians - were killed after a Hindu religious leader there was shot dead.


SEE ALSO
More church attacks in Karnataka
17 Sep 08 |  South Asia
Arrests over India church attacks
15 Sep 08 |  South Asia
Riots grip India's Orissa region
26 Aug 08 |  South Asia
Indian police shoot three dead
28 Dec 07 |  South Asia

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