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Deadly sectarian riots spread in north India

The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is seeing increasing tensions between Hindus and Muslims. Several people have been killed in riots, and the army has been deployed to quell the violence.

Police say at least 28 people have been killed since clashes broke out on Saturday between the Hindu and Muslim communities in villages in Muzaffarnagar district, about 125 kilometers (78 miles) north of the capital, New Delhi.

Media reports said a television reporter and police photographer were among the dead.

The violence was sparked by the killing of three Hindus on August 27. The three youths had reportedly tried to intervene in an incident in which a woman was being harassed.

State police inspector Ashish Gupta said rumors spread by mobile phones and social media were making it difficult to bring the violence under control.

Hundreds of troops, paramilitary forces and police have been deployed to the area, and a curfew has been imposed in some parts. Soldiers are said to be searching homes for weapons.

A state of alert has been declared for Uttar Pradesh, where some 18 percent of the inhabitants are Muslim.

The northern state was the scene of India's worst intercommunal clashes after a Hindu mob razed a 16th-century mosque in Ayodhya in 1992. At least 2,000 people are reported to have died in the ensuing violence.

Federal Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said on Saturday that sectarian violence was on the rise in India, which is predominantly Hindu. He said 451 incidents were reported in the first eight months of this year, compared with 410 for all of 2012.

tj/mkg (dpa, AP)