A curfew has been imposed in some parts of India’s northeastern province of Assam following four days of ethnic violence during which 35 people were killed.
Military reinforcements have been called in and security forces have been ordered to “shoot on sight” in an attempt to quell the unrest, which has forced nearly 170,000 people to flee their homes.
The measure was adopted after fighting between indigenous Bodo tribes and Muslim settlers in Kokrajhar and Chirang districts intensified.
Nine people were killed overnight on Wednesday, according to officials.
A local official in Kokrajhar has described the situation in the area as “very tense.”
Bodo tribes and Muslim settlers have for years been engaged in fighting over territorial disputes in the remote region.
Unidentified gangs have reportedly exploited the situation by setting houses, schools, and vehicles on fire, and used automatic weapons to shoot people indiscriminately in populated areas, according to the police.
Meanwhile, local news reports indicate fierce criticism of local government officials for inadequate early response to the incidents. Poorly-equipped security forces in the area have also been cited as possible causes of the sporadic outbreak of ethnic violence in Assam over the years.