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Ethnic Violence Erupts in India's Assam State

In India's Assam state, at least 10 people have been killed as ethnic violence flares in the remote, northeastern region. The violence was triggered by a dispute over jobs. Curfews were imposed, and the army staged marches in several areas in Assam after rampaging mobs targeted Hindi-speaking migrants, killing several people and setting more than a hundred homes on fire.

Police say four women and two children - all members of a single family - were hacked to death in Dibrugarh town early Wednesday. Earlier, four people were shot to death and several others wounded when suspected militants opened fire on a group of men watching a cricket match in Dhubri town. All the victims came from neighboring Bihar state.

The violence erupted late Tuesday, when rampaging mobs began looting homes, and assaulting people from Bihar, prompting thousands of these Hindi-speaking settlers to seek refuge in police stations.

Tensions between the Assamese people and settlers from Bihar have been simmering for some time. Earlier this month, Assamese youth attacked and prevented Bihari candidates from taking recruitment tests for jobs in the state-run railway. Groups in Bihar retaliated by attacking trains bound for Assam last week.

Many Assamese people say migrants from neighboring areas are taking away scarce jobs in the state, which is rich in resources, but remains one of India's most underdeveloped regions.

Assam's Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi says security will be stepped up to protect the state's Hindi-speaking population. But he says greater development in the state is necessary to defuse the building tension.

Several local groups, including a separatist guerrilla organization known as the United Liberation Front of Assam, have warned migrants through the local media to leave the state, or face retaliation. On Monday, several Assamese groups ordered a total shutdown in the state.

This is the second time in recent years that Hindi-speaking settlers have been targeted in Assam. In 2000, more than one hundred migrants were killed by suspected militants in a series of attacks.