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Church 'at risk' in Indian state

24 September 08 17:20 GMT

An Indian government team has criticised the government of southern Karnataka state for not doing enough to stop attacks on churches and clergymen.

Special Home Secretary ML Kumawat is assessing why at least 20 churches have been desecrated in recent weeks.

The attacks have been carried out by the militant Hindu group Bajrang Dal.

Meanwhile, police killed a protester in Orissa state on Tuesday who was demonstrating over the arrests of two people for anti-Christian violence.

'Sense of security'

The official looking into the latest anti-Christian violence in Karnataka, ML Kumawat, said that the state government "needs to do more and arrest all those responsible for the attacks".

Mr Kumawat was speaking after visiting the troubled areas of Mangalore, Udupi and Bangalore.

"More action is needed to instil a sense of security among minorities," he said.

The team will submit its report to India's Home Minister Shivaraj Patil on Thursday.

Correspondents say that the central government's decision to send a high-level team on a fact-finding tour has rattled the state government run by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

Its Chief Minister, BS Yeddyurappa, accused the Congress-led government in Delhi of "trying to destablise" a popular government.

Orissa

As well as the protester who was killed, one other was seriously injured when police opened fire in Kandhamal district in eastern Orissa on Tuesday.

Violence broke out in Raikia, a small town in the district, when about 500 people, most of them women, attacked a police station.

Police say they baton-charged the women, who were throwing stones at them, before opening fire.

Thirty-five people, including 25 policemen, were injured in the violence and officials say additional security personnel were sent to the area.

The situation remains extremely tense.

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.

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