Dec 24, 2014 3:46 AM
India separatists blamed for killing 52 tribesmen
The Associated Press
NEW DELHI (AP) Long-simmering land and ethnic disputes erupted in bloodshed in northeastern India when rebels launched coordinated attacks on tribal settlers in Assam state, killing at least 52 people, officials said Wednesday.
The killings took place in five attacks late Tuesday targeting tribal settlers known as Adivasi, who migrated to Assam more than 100 years ago. Most of them worked on tea plantations in the region.
Assam's Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said rebels belonging to a faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland were behind the massacre.
Bodo rebels have been fighting for a separate homeland for their indigenous tribe, which makes up 10 percent of Assam's 33 million people. They have staged attacks against both Adivasi and Muslim settlers in violence that has left at 10,000 people dead, most of them civilians, in the last three decades.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the latest attacks, and Home Ministry rushed several thousand federal paramilitary troops to the region, junior Home Minister Kiren Rijiju said.
The dead included at least 37 people in Sonitpur district and 15 others in Kokrajhar, officials said.
Dozens of rebel groups have been fighting the government and sometimes each other for years in seven states in northeast India. They demand greater regional autonomy or independent homelands for the indigenous groups they represent.
The rebels accuse the federal government of exploiting the region's rich mineral resources but neglecting the local people.
In May, rebels from the same group shot and killed more than 30 Muslim settlers in the region.