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Clashes in northeast India leave 17 dead as thousands flee

Clashes between tribes in India's restive northeast Assam state have left 17 dead and forced thousands to flee, officials said Wednesday. Some 4,000 people have sought refuge in makeshift camps since fighting started in December in Karbi Anglong district, about 320 kilometres (199 miles) from the main city of Guwahati, a police spokesman said. The latest violence, between the Karbi and Rengma Naga tribes over attempts to grab land, has involved villagers being shot at close range and their bodies dumped in a jungle area, officials told AFP.

Building collapse kills 11 in India's Goa, many feared trapped

CANACONA, India (Reuters) - At least 11 workers were killed and many feared trapped when a half-built apartment block collapsed in the Indian resort state of Goa, police and media said on Sunday, the latest disaster to draw attention to safety standards amid a construction boom. The three-storey building in Canacona, just over 4 km (two and a half miles) from the popular Palolem beach in the western state, India's smallest, collapsed on Saturday.

India's Goa bans local people from casinos

Authorities in Goa have decided to ban local people from entering the holiday state's casinos, which from March will only welcome tourists. Goa's Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar announced the amendment to the state's gambling act, which will come into force on March 1, prohibiting locals from entering either onshore casinos or those on ships in Goan waters.

Indians in remote regions campaign for new time zone

A leading politician in northeast India gave fresh momentum Thursday to calls to scrap the country's single time zone, which causes problems for easterners who face summer sunrise as early as 4:30am. Despite India's vast size, it has one time of +5:30 from Greenwich Mean Time for its 1.2-billion population, spread from points further east than Bangladesh to the western Arabian Sea. At this time of year the sun rises in the east shortly before 6am, more than 90 minutes earlier than in the west, while daybreak in the east comes as early as 4:30am around the summer solstice.

Bus crash in western India kills 27

At least 27 people died and 17 were injured in western India on Thursday when a local bus slid off a mountain road into a valley, police said. "The driver lost control after a tempo (three-wheeled vehicle] rammed into the bus along a sharp turn, causing it to fall into a 250-foot (80-metre) valley," local policeman Sangram Singh Nishandar told AFP. The accident happened near a popular picnic spot in the Thane district of Maharashtra state, 160 kilometres (100 miles) northeast of Mumbai.

Mumbai's last generation of letter writers signs out

Letter writer Shakil Ahmed is a proud keeper of secrets. For decades he penned the missives of Mumbai's illiterate workers, whether lovers pledging devotion to faraway sweethearts or prostitutes sending home money while concealing their trade. Today, Ahmed is lucky if he gets to write an address. "Thousands of people used to come -- we didn't have time to eat. But in the last seven years or so it's been going down," the scribe said at his weathered wooden desk, perched opposite the city's domed century-old General Post Office.

Separatists behind deadly India bicycle bomb

A bicycle bomb that killed five people in eastern India was carried out by militants fighting for a separate state in the famous Darjeeling tea district, police said Friday. Ten people were also injured when the bomb exploded late Thursday in the town of Jalpaiguri in the state of West Bengal. Earlier reports put the number of dead at four but a fifth victim died later in hospital. A senior police officer said the bomb, which went off near a school, bore many of the hallmarks of the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation.

China, India spar over disputed border

NEW DELHI/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China on Saturday urged India not to aggravate problems on the border shared by the two nations, a day after the Indian president toured a disputed region and called it an integral part of the country. The two countries, which fought a brief border war in 1962, only last month signed a pact to ensure that differences on the border do not spark a confrontation.

India's east coast braces for massive cyclone

Tens of thousands of terrified villagers braced Saturday for the arrival of a massive cyclone bearing down on India's east coast, packing winds of up 220 kilometres an hour (140 mph). High waves were already pounding rain-drenched beaches and trees were bent double by strong winds ahead of the arrival of Cyclone Phailin, which was expected to make landfall Saturday evening accompanied by a storm surge of up to three metres (10 feet). The storm was set to hit in the same coastal area as a devastating cyclone which struck in 1999, killing thousands of people.

30 dead in Indian road crash

A heavy goods truck careered onto the wrong side of the road and smashed head-on into two packed vehicles in the northeast of India on Thursday, killing at least 30 and injuring 10, officials told AFP. A police spokesperson said the accident took place on a highway early Thursday near the village of Doholapara in the Barpeta district of Assam, about 140 kilometres (90 miles) west of the main city of Guwahati. The driver of the truck was arrested by police shortly after the accident.
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