Riots began in India last Wednesday and raged through the weekend. These are only the latest in a history of violent Muslim and Hindu relations that date back to the birth of the country. They are also the culmination of tensions that have been festering since the 1992 razing of a Muslim mosque in Ayodhya.

Official figures put the death toll from the past week at about 600. Unofficial sources claim the dead could number over 1,000.

The widespread riots in the northwestern Indian state of Gujarat began as retaliation for the death of at least 57 Hindus aboard a train in the city of Godhra last Wednesday. Approximately 2,500 Hindus were returning to the capital city of Ahmedabad from the site of the razed mosque in Ayodhya.

Upon hearing Hindus chanting inside the train, Muslim townspeople of Godhra attacked with stones and other weapons. Then they set the train on fire. Flames gutted four cars.

Widespread riots and attacks quickly followed the incident. Godhra schools and businesses were closed and a curfew was placed on the city to stem retaliatory violence.

The most serious violence erupted in Ahmedabad, where the train (minus the attacked cars) arrived hours later. Muslims were attacked as they left the train. Shops and buses were set ablaze.

Violence only worsened through Thursday and Friday around Ahmedabad as Hindu activists burned Muslims in their homes, devised elaborate traps to lure them into electrified pools of water, destroyed at least one mosque, and hurled gasoline bombs. Indian army troops were sent into at least three Gujarat towns to end the escalating massacre. The Gujarat police have reportedly detained 3,976 people.

Twenty-six cities and villages reported attacks. Curfews were imposed on at least 50 cities. One ...

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