Two people were killed and at least seven injured as the police opened fire on clashing groups of two communities in Varanasi town of Uttar Pradesh Wednesday, an official said here.
The police opened fire to quell communal violence that broke out during Holi celebrations near the Gauriya Masjid in Bazaridiha locality under the Bhelpur police station in the heart of town, a home department spokesman said.
"The trouble erupted after a group of Hindu revelers went about splashing colours on some Muslims coming out of a madrassa," Varanasi city superintendent of police Vijay Bhushan told IANS by telephone.
"What began as a verbal duel flared up into a violent clash, as both sides refused to calm down," he said.
"With the rioters taking to brick-batting and even firing, the police were left with no option but to use force. Initially, we tried to control the violence by lobbing teargas shells but when some people opened fire, we were compelled to retaliate," Bhushan said.
"We have detained at least 10 people from each side and intensified security in the locality where we will maintain a round-the-clock vigil to prevent any recurrence of violence."
He described the situation as "well under control".