Jatindra Dash for Reuters:
BHUBANESWAR, India (Reuters) – Thousands of people, most of them Christians, have sought shelter in makeshift government camps in eastern India, driven from their homes by religious violence which has killed at least 13 people this week.
A district official said on Friday the religious clashes showed signs of abating in the state of Orissa, where Hindu mobs burnt more than a dozen churches and attacked Christians after a Hindu leader was killed.
“Hindu and Christian peace committees have been meeting and the leaders have appealed for calm,” said Krishan Kumar, chief administrator of the worst-affected Kandhamal district.
The bodies of two Christians believed to have been killed earlier this week had been found, Kumar told Reuters, taking the death toll from a week of violence to 13.
He said that a curfew imposed to halt the attacks would be lifted for a few hours.
At least 6,000 people were taking shelter in the government camps and about 5,000 were hiding in forests around Kandhamal, which has a history of communal and religious clashes, for fear of mob violence.
The numbers at the camps were expected to swell to 10,000 later on Friday, Kumar said.