PATNA, India — Rampaging mobs killed at least 42 people from upper-caste landlord families Saturday in the worst such attack ever in the eastern state of Bihar, officials said.
The victims were gunned down, burned alive or hacked to death after a mob of impoverished leftists surrounded and attacked seven families at two villages in Aurangabad district, State Home Secretary R.N. Das said.
The villages are about about 145 miles southeast of Patna, the state capital.
The Indian news agency earlier quoted a state government spokesman as saying the attack was launched by "armed extremists."
Poverty-stricken Bihar is known for battles among castes and between rich and poor. The violence has increased lately between lower-caste peasants and upper-caste landlords.
Most of the victims were of the upper Rajput caste and most of the attackers were of the lower Yadav caste, officials said.
Das said the massacre was a sequel to the murders on April 19 of eight Yadavs in nearby Mananpur by members of the Rajput caste.