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57 killed, 43 injured in train fire in India.

NEW DELHI, Feb. 27 Kyodo

At least 57 people -- including 25 women and 15 children -- were killed Wednesday when an angry mob set fire to four carriages of a passenger train at Godhra in the western Indian state Gujarat following clashes between Hindu fanatics and local Muslims, officials said.

More than 43 people were injured.

The melee was apparently triggered by members of a radical Hindu group known as Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council, who taunted local Muslims after their train pulled to a stop at Godhra station.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad members on the train shouted slogans vowing to build a Hindu temple at the site of a razed mosque in Ayodhya, an Indian holy town in northern Uttar Pradesh State.

The irate Muslims set fire to four coaches of the Sabarmati Express as the train was about to leave the station.

A senior police official in Godhra told Kyodo News that the death toll probably included people other than Vishwa Hindu Parishad members. The bodies were badly burned and relatives of the victims will be arriving Thursday to help with the identification process, the official said.

The Hindu passengers were returning from attending a ceremony at Ayodhya. Vishwa Hindu Parishad has vowed to begin construction of the Hindu temple in Ayodhya by March 15.

While the Indian government led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has maintained that a court order that has stalled construction of the temple must be obeyed, Vishwa Hindu Parishad has shown no inclination to abide by the ban.

Hundreds of Vishwa Hindu Parishad volunteers have been traveling to Ayodhya from Gujarat in recent days to express their solidarity with the temple construction cause.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Mar 4, 2002
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