Separatist rebels wearing black masks opened fire on Muslim villagers in remote northeastern India yesterday, killing at least 11 people, mostly women and children, in two overnight attacks.
The gunmen are members of the Bodo tribe and belong to a faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, said regional police inspector general LR Bishnoi.
The Bodo tribesmen have long accused Muslims of sneaking into India illegally from neighbouring Bangladesh and then encroaching on their ancestral land in Assam state.
The dead included six women and three children, police said.
The violence comes at a time of heightened security during the country's general election, with the voting taking place over six weeks.
Tensions have been high since a Bodo lawmaker criticised Muslims for not voting for a Bodo candidate, said Lafikul Islam Ahmed, leader of a Muslim youth organisation called the All Bodoland Muslim Students' Union.
Violence between Bodo people and Muslims had killed as many as 100 people in the same area in 2012.
Police said the first attack yesterday took place in western Assam, when at least eight of the rebels opened fire on a group of villagers who were sitting in a courtyard. Four people were killed and two others wounded, Bishnoi said.
The second attack happened in Kokrajhar district when more than 20 armed men, their faces covered with black hoods, broke open the doors of two homes and sprayed them with bullets, killing seven people, witnesses said.