Bhubaneswar, Sep 2 : Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday termed the communal riots following the killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, as an unfortunate incident.
Stating that the people of the state had a long record of being peaceful, secular and tolerant to all faiths, Patnaik told reporters the riots were "an unfortunate occurrence during the eight-and-a-half years of my government."
Claiming that situation in Kandhamal and Koraput was considerably under control, he said, "Two unfortunate incidents took place recently. The first incident took place in December 2007 and the other one a few days ago."
While three persons were killed in the communal violence after an attack on Saraswati on the eve of Christmas last year in Kandhamal, 16 people have died in the ongoing violence, which has spread to other districts.
The government has admitted that 558 houses and 17 churches and prayer houses have been burnt in the violence which is still continuing.
Unofficial sources claim that over 30 people have been killed in the violence in Kandhamal district alone.