|India communal bloodbath spreads
Sectarian violence spread into new areas of northern India, despite an army-enforced curfew put in place after deadly weekend clashes broke out between Hindus and Muslims. (Pictured, a girl injured in communal clashes awaits treatment at a hospital in Muzaffarnagar, India)
Gunfire and street battles that erupted Saturday in villages around Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh state have killed at least 28 people, police said. Soldiers have been given orders to shoot rioters on sight, state government official Kamal Saxena said.
By morning today police had arrested 90 people. Still, the violence spread to the neighboring districts of Shamli and Meerut overnight.
Dozens of rioters attacked a group of soldiers evacuating people Sunday night from the riot-hit village of Wazidpur, Saxena said. The soldiers responded by opening fire on the rioters, but no one was hit, he said.
The violence began Saturday night after a meeting of thousands of Hindu farmers called for justice in the killing of three young men from Kawal village who had objected when a woman was being verbally harassed. Officials said some of the farmers had made hate-filled speeches against Muslims at the meeting.
Clashes with Muslims broke out after the meeting, with many participants carrying guns, swords and knives, senior police officer Arun Kumar said.
Shops and schools were closed Monday in Muzaffarnagar, about 125 kilometers north of New Delhi. Soldiers are searching homes for weapons.
A state of alert has been declared for Uttar Pradesh, a state of 200 million people where the 1992 razing of a 16th century mosque by a Hindu mob in Ayodhya sparked India's worst communal clashes. –AP