Assam death toll touches 44

Updated 07 May 2014
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Assam death toll touches 44

NARAYANGURI: Indian police discovered six more bodies of women and children Wednesday after a “barbaric” rampage by tribal separatists targeting Muslims in northeast Assam, taking the total number killed to 44, officials said.
The bodies were found as authorities continued their search of two districts in the remote tea-growing state where masked gunmen last week shot dead Muslim villagers including babies as they slept.
Police have accused tribal Bodo rebels of killing the Muslims whose migrant community has been locked for years in land disputes with the indigenous group in the state that borders Bhutan and Bangladesh.
Local media have reported that Bodos attacked the Muslims as punishment for failing to vote for their candidate last month in the country’s mammoth, staggered election that is drawing to a close.
“So far the death toll is put at 43. The killings were indeed barbaric with even five-month-old baby not spared,” Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told reporters from the worst-hit Narayanguri village.
“It is unfortunate that bodies are still being recovered and we have reports that 11 more people are missing,” Gogoi said.
A police spokesman traveling with Gogoi said the bodies of three children and two women were the latest found in the district of Baksa, about 210 km west of Assam’s main city of Guwahati.
The death toll has climbed from at least 32 on Sunday after a series of bodies were discovered in recent days, while several people wounded in the carnage on May 1 and May 2 have also died in hospital.

Gogoi said some 15 children, aged eight months to 14, left orphaned by the bloodshed were being sent to a charity-run home in Guwahati.
Villagers broke down in tears as they recalled their terrifying ordeals, while others pleaded with officials traveling with the chief minister to help shift them to hospital for treatment.
“I saw my mother and father dying in front of me. I managed to save myself hiding under the bed as masked gunmen put bullets in my parents,” 14-year-old Habiba Nessa told AFP.
Security forces have launched a massive hunt for the Bodo guerrillas blamed for the violence which has forced several thousand people to flee their homes in fear, officials have said.
The violence came during the final stretch of the general election that has seen religious and ethnic tensions flare and which Hindu nationalist hard-liner Narendra Modi and his opposition party were expected to win.
Police blamed the attacks on the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland, which has been demanding a separate homeland for decades, but the group has denied it was behind the violence.
Seventeen people were killed in clashes in the same region in January.
In 2012, ethnic clashes in the same area claimed about 100 lives and displaced more than 400,000 people.


Pakistan reimposes ban on charities linked to militant leader

Updated 13 min 36 sec ago
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Pakistan reimposes ban on charities linked to militant leader

  • The ban comes as Pakistan faces international pressure to act against militant groups, amid escalating tension with its nuclear-armed neighbor, India
  • The two banned charities are linked to founder of another prominent extremist group, the Lashkar-e-Taiba

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has re-instated a ban on two charities linked to the founder of a militant group that has carried out attacks in India, the interior ministry said on Friday.
The ban comes as Pakistan faces international pressure to act against militant groups, amid escalating tension with its nuclear-armed neighbor, India, following a suicide bomb attack on Indian police in the disputed region of Kashmir.
The attack, in which 40 Indian paramilitary troops were killed, was claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant group.
The two banned charities are linked to founder of another prominent extremist group, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
Pakistan’s National Security Committee, made up of top military and civilian officials, decided late on Thursday to ban the charities liked to LeT founder Hafiz Saeed, who has long been on a UN international terrorism blacklist.
The United States and India have blamed the LeT for numerous deadly militant attacks, including a four-day siege by gunmen in the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008 that killed 166 people.
The United States has offered $10 million for information leading to Saeed’s his arrest and conviction.
“It was decided during the meeting to accelerate action against proscribed organizations,” Pakistan’s interior ministry said in a statement.
Saeed, who denies being the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks and says he has no links to militant violence, has maintained that the two charities — the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) — are vital for helping the poor and have militant ties.
JuD spokesman Yahya Mujahid said the two groups would turn to the courts to overturn the latest ban.
Saeed has been placed under house arrest several times over the past decade but he has always been released after a few months and has mostly been living freely in Pakistan, to the anger of both India and the United States.
Pakistan has long banned the LeT but for many years allowed its charity wings to operate an extensive network including 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance services.
The United States has repeatedly complained about Pakistan’s failure to shut down the charities it deems “terrorist fronts” for LeT.
Pakistan last year banned the two charities but the order was temporary and it lapsed.
India has ratcheted up pressure on Pakistan since the Feb. 14 attack in Indian-administered Kashmir.
India accused Pakistan of having a hand in the attack. Pakistan denies that.
Pakistan has also been placed on an international watchlist for failing to curb terrorist financing.