//Nine killed in clashes in Assam

Nine killed in clashes in Assam

Fri Feb 10, 2006 11:55 PM IST165

GUWAHATI, India (Reuters) – Nine people were killed on Friday in clashes between security forces and villagers protesting against alleged atrocities by soldiers in the troubled northeastern state of Assam, police said.

Police opened fire after hundreds of villagers stormed a police station and a military camp in two towns in the east of the tea- and oil-rich state on Friday. They had been protesting the killing of a villager suspected to be a sympathiser of a separatist group.

"Security forces had to open fire to control the mob, in which eight people were killed. Six died of bullet wounds in Kakopathar town and two died in nearby Makum town," a senior police officer, who did not want to be named, told Reuters in Guwahati, the state’s main city.

A paramilitary man was killed by the mob at Kakopathar, he said.

Later, the protesters set on fire a small railway station, many houses of railway workers and a post office in Makum, he said. Authorities have imposed curfew in the violence-hit towns and rushed reinforcements.

The outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has been fighting an armed insurgency since 1979 demanding freedom, accusing New Delhi of taking away the state’s mineral resources and giving nothing in return.

More than 15,000 people have been killed since ULFA launched the revolt.

Friday’s incidents come three days after a team representing the ULFA held talks with senior federal officials in New Delhi. Both sides agreed to push for peace to eventually enable the government to open direct talks with the rebel leaders.

The government had also assured that it would look into complaints of human rights violations by security forces in the state.