|Saturday, 5 April 2003|
Indian police say kidnap victims massacred
GUWAHATI, India, April 4 (Reuters) - Police in the revolt-racked northeastern Indian state of Assam said on Friday they had found the bodies of 22 tribal people abducted by militants from a rival tribe.
A police spokesman told Reuters the dead bodies, bearing bullet wounds, were recovered from thick forests in Cachar, in southern Assam.
More than 30 Dimasa tribe villagers from three remote villages were kidnapped during a night raid on Wednesday, police said. They suspected a local militant group, the Hmar Peoples Conference (HPC), was behind the massacre.
"The Hmar and Dimasa tribes have a longstanding dispute over the occupation of land and it is believed to be a revenge killing," a police spokesmen said.
Cachar is about 350 km (220 miles) south of Dispur -- the capital of Assam.
Assam, rich in tea and oil, is plagued by separatist and tribal insurgency for over 20 years. Locals accuse the government of plundering the state's mineral resources, neglecting the local economy and ignoring the welfare of the people.
The officer said searches were underway for the eight people still missing.
Armed men set hundreds of Dimasa huts on fire during Wednesday night's raid. More than 500 people left homeless by the raid were living in temporary shelters provided by police.
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