PATNA, India (Reuters) - At least 12 lower-caste villagers were
shot dead at night in the eastern Indian state of Bihar by suspected members
of an upper-caste private army, police said on Thursday.
The attackers struck early on Thursday in Narayanpur village, 74 kms
(46 miles) from the state capital Patna in the crime-ridden district of
``Twelve harijans (lower caste people) in Narayanpur village were mowed
down by the extremists in the wee hours of Thursday,'' state Director General
of Police, K.A. Jacob, told Reuters.
``The identity of the killers is yet to be ascertained. But the Ranvir
Sena is suspected to be behind the killing,'' he said, referring to a powerful
militia formed by upper-caste landlords.
The Press Trust of India quoted Jacob as saying that the mob killed
the villagers as they slept.
Last month 24 villagers in the same district were killed and 13 were
wounded in a Ranvir Sena attack.
The private militia has often clashed with supporters of the predominantly
lower-caste Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), mainly over land
disputes. The rebels want a radical redistribution of land in the state,
which is bitterly opposed by upper-caste landlords.