Police recovered nine more bodies overnight in the violence torn Assam districts of Udalguri and Darrang, taking the toll in three days of clashes between two communities in the area to 16, officials said Sunday.
"The casualties as of now is 16 killed and about 50 wounded, some of them critically, besides about 20 villages have been affected. Around 200 houses were torched in the group clashes," a police official said.
The clashes took place despite an indefinite curfew in violence-hit areas and soldiers staging flag marches, besides the presence of police and paramilitary troopers.
"We have asked security forces to take all possible steps to stop the violence and help restore calm in the area," Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said.
"Shoot-at-sight orders have been issued against perpetrators of violence," he added.
Gogoi Saturday suspended the police chief of Udalguri and transferred the district magistrate for dereliction of duties. Violence broke out Friday between two communities in Rowta in Udalguri, about 100 km north of Guwahati. In the last two days, the violence had spread to the adjoining district of Darrang.
"The situation is tense with miscreants setting ablaze about 50 houses overnight," the police official said.
A large mob armed with bows and arrows, machetes, spears, besides country made guns, have been roaming the violence hit areas to target villages of rival communities.
Thousands of villagers have fled their homes and are taking shelter in makeshift relief camps set up by the police.
"There are an estimated 10,000 people of various ethnic communities sheltered in camps. These people had fled fearing attacks or belonged to villages where miscreants had torched their homes," the official said.
The immediate provocation for the clashes was the attack on a group of Village Defence Party (VDP) volunteers early Friday by armed miscreants.
"The VDP members belonged to the tribal Bodo community and were attacked by members of a religious minority group and that sparked off the clashes," the official said.
In August, the area witnessed similar clashes between two communities in which about 10 people were killed and several injured.