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Churches burn as violence spreads in Orissa
BHUBANESWAR, India |
BHUBANESWAR, India (Reuters) - Hindu mobs have burnt at least four more churches in Orissa, officials said on Monday, as religious violence appeared to spread.
Thousands of people, mostly Christians, have taken shelter in makeshift camps, where Hindu mobs went on the rampage last week after a Hindu leader was killed.
Last week officials said the violence appeared to be abating after Hindu and Christian leaders called for calm, but over the weekend it spread to new parts of the state.
Mobs set fire to four churches in the districts of Koraput and Rayagada, Orissa's Director General of Police, Gopal Chandra Nanda, told Reuters.
Two churches and several houses were also burnt in the Kandhamal district, the epicentre of the tension, despite a curfew imposed in most of its towns, one of the state's leading newspapers, The Samaja, reported on Monday.
Officials said they could not confirm that report.
The violence has drawn international condemnation, including from Pope Benedict. Local government officials revised the death toll to 14 and said they had received unconfirmed reports that two more bodies had been found.
Thousands of police and paramilitary forces have been deployed in nine of state's 30 districts after the killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, a senior state police official said.
"We are going to deploy in three more districts on Monday," he added.
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