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45 Held in India Christian Attacks

January 02, 1999| From Reuters

AHMADABAD, India — Authorities said Friday that they had detained 45 Hindus in connection with attacks on Christians in the western state of Gujarat.

No fresh violence has been reported since Wednesday, but parts of the state where church activists and Hindu organizations have traded accusations remained tense Friday, said Cedric Prakash, coordinator of the United Christian Forum for Human Rights.

Authorities said they were rounding up those believed to be behind the violence.

"We have arrested 45 Hindus for attacking Christians; we are still looking for people involved," said Bharat Joshi, an official in Dang, about 180 miles south of Ahmadabad.

Four nuns and two priests were injured Wednesday when mobs set ablaze a Catholic prayer hall, the 10th reported attack on the Christian community since Christmas.

A team sent by the federal government to assess the situation in the state reported that 28 incidents, mostly "damage to property rather than attacks leading to bodily harm or injury," had occurred up until Tuesday.

There were only four incidents in 1997, it said.

Christians make up 2.4% of the 967.6 million people in politically secular India. More than 80% of the population is Hindu.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Christian activists blame Hindu right-wing extremists.

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