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India: Fear for safety: Residents of Agartala and Khowai sub-divisions

, Index number: ASA 20/006/1997

There is concern for the safety of civilian residents of Agartala and Khowai sub-divisions, north-eastern state of Tripura, after the government invoked the Disturbed Areas Act in six police station areas, in response to deliberate and arbitrary killings by the armed opposition group, the All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF). According to reports the ATTF began armed attacks on 13 February against ethnic Bengalis in villages and refugee camps in the west of the state. On 16 February at least 31 civilians were killed and over 200 houses were set alight. Despite the existence of police posts nearby, police personnel apparently failed to intervene. The invocation of the Disturbed Areas Act means that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act is enforced in the Agartala and Khowai sub-divisions. This Act grants sweeping powers to the police to shoot to kill and allows for arrest without warrant.

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