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Police patrol riot-hit Bangalore

INDIA: Federal police were deployed and schools were shut in India's technology hub of Bangalore on Monday after communal rioting between Hindus and Muslims left one 12-year-old boy dead and dozens of people hurt.

Protests by thousands of Muslims against last month's execution of Saddam Hussein in Iraq sparked a chain of violence over the weekend between the minority Muslims and nationalist Hindus, police and witnesses said.

Riot police patrolled empty streets of downtown Bangalore on Monday but operations in the city's numerous software firms and call centres, mostly outside the city centre, were unaffected. "We are working. There is no change in our schedule," said a spokeswoman for Infosys Technologies Ltd., India's second-largest software exporter.

Muslims protesting against the execution of Iraq's toppled president clashed with police on Friday, ransacking shops owned by Hindus and burning at least 15 cars.

Protesters at a rally on Sunday of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps) then attacked shops owned by minority Muslims and stoned vehicles, forcing police to fire on rampaging crowds.

"All steps are being taken to bring the city to normalcy," Karnataka State Home Minister M.P. Prakash told reporters.

Police said at least 150 people had been arrested on Sunday.

Muslims constitute around 12 percent of Bangalore's 5 million population. They account for a similar proportion of India's 1 billion inhabitants.

Communal riots in India are not unusual although in recent years there has been a tail-off in religious disturbances. The worst rioting this decade was in the western state of Gujarat in 2002 when over 1,000 people were killed, mainly Muslims. Victims of Sunday's violence were in shock.

"My whole house has been destroyed. They are targetting us," said Abdul Khudus, a Muslim man whose home was ransacked.

Bangalore is capital of Karnataka state, which is ruled by a coalition of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and a regional party.

Bangalore, Monday, Reuters

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