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S African mayhem claims its first Indian

Sources said Niten Singh, 55, of Actonville of the city, was burnt alive inside his house by a gang of armed persons.

world Updated: May 21, 2008 23:34 IST

The ongoing xenophobic violence in South Africa’s Johannesburg has claimed its first victim of Indian-origin when he was burnt alive by a mob.

Sources said Niten Singh, 55, of Actonville of the city, was burnt alive inside his house by a gang of armed persons.

The violence has so far claimed 24 lives and displaced about 13,000 people since it broke out 10 days ago.

Family members and community members of Singh said they are completely baffled by Wednesday’s incident, in which a group of armed men attacked and burned Singh’s home.

“My brother lived alone and ran a photographic business. The motive behind the attack is not known. At this stage, we are devastated that this sort of thing could happen,” said Dr Lalbahadur Singh, brother of the victim.

Local community leader Selvan Naidoo said he arrived at Singh’s home soon after the fire started.

“The upper floor of the house was completely gutted and Singh was burnt beyond recognition,” he said, adding that illegible graffiti was sprayed on doors and walls of the house.

“We are mobilising the community to ensure that this sort of thing does not go out of hand,” Naidoo said.

Police said about 100 people from a local hostel attacked Singh’s home. “The house was looted and set alight. We believe this attack could be linked to the xenophobic violence. We have not arrested anyone yet,” a police official said.