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Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 14:41 UK

More religious violence in Orissa

Christian church in Phulbani District of Orissa state, 26/08
Orissa has seen rising tension between Christians and Hindus

A Hindu woman has been killed as police have tried to control more violence between Christians and Hindus in the eastern Indian state of Orissa.

They say that the violence began in the state's Kandhamal district when a Hindu mob attacked a Christian priest.

Police say that the priest's son retaliated by firing on the crowd, leading to further clashes.

Orissa has seen weeks of anti-Christian violence. Correspondents say it is caused by ethnic and religious tension.

Over 30 people have been killed in the violence and thousands forced to flee their homes and seek shelter in relief camps.

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

The latest clashes come a day after the European Union told India's prime minister that his government has failed to prevent "a massacre" of Christians in Orissa.

The BBC's Tinku Ray in Delhi says that there has been a lot of criticism of the central government's inability to stem the violence.

Gunshots

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the incidents as a "national shame" and sent 4,000 troops to help local police maintain order.

In Tuesday's clashes, Hindu mobs set fire to Christian homes and burned down a church according to local officials. Villagers retaliated and gunshots were fired by both sides.

Police say that they opened fire to disperse the mob. One Hindu woman died. There are conflicting reports as to whether she was killed by a police bullet.

Police say that five of the 12 injured are in a serious condition, with some suffering suffering from gunshot wounds.

Clashes between Hindus and Christians in Orissa began last month when a Hindu religious leader was shot dead.

Hindu groups have long accused Christian priests of bribing poor tribes and low-caste Hindus to convert to Christianity.

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

A large number of Hindu untouchables in the district have converted to Christianity in the state over the past few decades.

Attacks on Christians have also been reported in the southern states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the central state of Madhya Pradesh.

Correspondents say that relations are usually peaceful between Christians, who comprise 2.5% of India's 1.1 billion people and Hindus, who account for more than three-quarters of the population.




SEE ALSO
Church 'at risk' in Indian state
24 Sep 08 |  South Asia
More Karnataka churches attacked
22 Sep 08 |  South Asia
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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