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Ethnic violence kills 37 people in India
Updated: 2005-10-18 09:04

Machete-wielding attackers ambushed a bus and tribal militants set fire to two villages of a rival group in northeastern India on Monday, killing 37 people, officials said.

Militants from the Dimasa tribe, which has recently fought militias from the rival Karbi tribe, attacked a bus and killed 22 travelers with machetes, said D.D. Tripathi, the top administrator of Karbi Anglong district in Assam state.

The assailants dragged the passengers off the bus before lining them up on the road and hacking them to death, Tripathi said. Twenty died at the scene and two died from their wounds at a hospital. Five other passengers were injured.

All the dead belonged to the Karbi tribe, Tripathi said.

Hours later, assailants set fire to nearly 80 houses in two nearby villages belonging to the Karbi tribe, said Tripathi, who said he suspected the second attack was also staged by Dimasa members.

The blazes killed at least 15 people, said a local police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media.

Neither group could be reached for comment, and the official account of the killings could not be independently verified.

State authorities dispatched paramilitary police to the area — about 220 miles southeast of Gauhati, Assam's capital — and ordered a curfew there.

Militants from both tribes are battling the Indian government for self-rule in the northeast, but also clash with each other. Fighting earlier this month between the two tribes killed at least 33 people and forced some 10,000 to flee their homes.

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