Death toll from violence in India's Assam state rises to 32

GUWAHATI, India (AFP) - Police found nine more bodies on Saturday after a deadly rampage by tribal separatists in India's remote north-eastern Assam state, taking the death toll to 32 following two days of violence.

The nine bodies, including those of women and children, were recovered from Narayanguri village in Baksa district, some 200 km west of Assam's main city of Guwahati.

"The death toll has gone up to 32," police inspector general S. N. Singh told AFP. "Security has been further tightened with police and paramilitary troopers deployed in strength."

Fresh violence erupted on Friday night when tribal rebels killed 12 Muslims, a day after they had killed three villagers in the same district and eight more in neighbouring Kokrajhar, opening fire on the victims as they slept in their homes.

The attacks have prompted security forces to launch a massive hunt for the guerillas and have spurred some 5,000 people to flee from their homes, Mr Singh said. He added that an indefinite curfew has also been imposed in the violence-torn districts, with police given shoot-on-sight orders.

The victims of the attacks were Muslim migrants who have been locked in land disputes with indigenous Bodo tribes in the tea-growing state that borders Bhutan and Bangladesh.

The attacks come as India votes in a multi-phased general election that began on April 7. Polling winds up on May 12, with results to be announced four days later. Voting in Assam has ended, with April 24 the last day of polling.

Police blamed the attacks on the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), which has been demanding a separate homeland for decades. Seventeen people were killed in clashes in the same region in January and thousands of others fled their homes for fear of further attacks.

In 2012, ethnic clashes in the same area claimed about 100 lives and displaced more than 400,000 people.