Kandhamal: 1 Policeman killed in fresh violence

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Bhubaneswar, Sep 16: Orissa has turned out to be another Jammu Kashmir with violence aggravating in Kandhamal district everyday. Fresh violence has broken out in Orissa's Kandhamal district with a policeman killed as an armed mob of about 500 torched a police station and set fire to several vehicles, officials said on Tuesday, Sep 16.

The violence erupted in Gochapada area on Monday, Sep 15 night, two days after security forces fired at a crowd in Krutamgarh, to prevent them from attacking Christian residents, officials said. Three people were killed on Saturday, Sep 13 night though some reports said the death toll from the police firing was six.

On Monday, Sep 15 night, the ire seemed to spill over to the police personnel in Gochapada with crowds carrying guns, swords and sticks ransacking the police station. "One police station at Gochapada was burnt down by a mob of about 500. One policeman was shot dead," District Collector Krishan Kumar said.

The mob also torched several vehicles, including a police jeep and a motorcycle, he said.

With the death of the police personnel in Gochapada, the number of people killed since the Saturday, Aug 23 murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmananda Saraswati has gone up to 25.

The murder of the VHP leader by unidentified gunmen in his Jalespata Ashram in Kandhamal district triggered communal clashes in which several churches were attacked, thousands rendered homeless and 25 killed.

Police suspect Maoist rebels killed Saraswati but some Hindu groups blamed Christians for the murder and went on the rampage. Christian groups have repeatedly denied the allegations.

Orissa is not new to communal violence between Hindus and Christians. On Jan 22, 1999, Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, 10-year-old Philip and six-year-old Timothy, were burnt alive by a Hindu mob in their vehicle in Keonjhar district.

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