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Thousands Flee S. India Amid Ethnic Violence Rumors

Women from India's northeastern states wait with their baggage to board trains home, at a railway station in Bangalore, India, August 16, 2012.
Thousands of Indians from the country's northeast have fled the southern city of Bangalore following rumors of impending attacks in retaliation for recent ethnic clashes in their home state.

Railway authorities added extra cars to trains heading to Assam state from Bangalore to handle the crush of passengers, many of whom were students and workers.

Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka state, is a popular place to study for many Indians, including those from Assam.

Officials say they are investigating the source of the rumors of attacks, which are said to have spread through social media and text messages. India's interior minister and the chief ministers of Assam and Karnataka have all appealed for calm and are urging people not to believe the rumors.

More than 80 people have been killed and 400,000 displaced in clashes in recent weeks between members of the Bodo tribe and Bengali Muslim settlers in Assam.

Fresh violence flared in the northeastern state of Assam on Thursday, with mobs torching a car, bus and bridge.

There have also been outbreaks of fighting across the country in the past few days.

In India's financial hub, Mumbai, two people were killed and several wounded in clashes between police and Muslims protesting the recent unrest in Assam.

Animosity and accusations of land-stealing have long simmered in Assam between members of the ethnic Bodo community and the thousands of mostly Bengali Muslim settlers, many of whom came from the former East Pakistan before it became Bangladesh in 1971.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Photo Gallery: Indians Flee Bangalore