12 killed as unrest mounts in India's northeast

Indian troops shot dead 10 people while two others died in clashes as machete-wielding rioters protested against local elections in the country's northeast, officials said on Tuesday.

Official in Assam said some 100 homes were burned and 20 people, including a police official, were injured as rioters brandishing machetes went on a rampage in two districts of the oil- and tea-rich state that borders Bangladesh.

"Twelve deaths have been reported of which 10 were killed in firing by troops while two others died in clashes between rival groups," Bhupen Bora, a senior Assam home ministry official, said in Guwahati, the state's main city.

Soldiers have fanned out to try and quell the violence that erupted in Goalpara, some 120km from Guwahati, he said, adding that a security forces have also slapped a curfew on violence-hit regions.

"Army soldiers have been deployed in the troubled areas to stop the violence from spreading," Bora told AFP.

Security forces opened fire when rioters from an ethnic tribal group and a rival community opposing the elections began setting fire to villages and attacking government officials with machetes and spears, Bora said.

Television channels showed images of men and women torching houses and engaging in widespread arson.

"The situation is very critical and volatile," said Bora.

Rabha and Hasong tribal villagers are demanding local autonomy and reject government rule in the area.

The protesters said the polls for "panchayat" or village councils that were held Tuesday undermined the authority of their own Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council.


 

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