Hindus and Moslems fought with knives and guns in scattered violence Wednesday, leaving at least seven more people dead, and more troops were sent to guard a disputed holy site in this northeastern city.
The dispute over the site has pushed the government to the brink of collapse, and violence stemming from it has left at least 158 people dead in the past week. On Tuesday night, the violence spread to neighboring Bangladesh.Troops killed five people and wounded at least 20 in Ayodhya on Tuesday when thousands of Hindu militants broke through police barricades and forced their way to a 460-year-old mosque they want to replace with a Hindu temple.
Hindu fundamentalists had vowed to start construction Tuesday on a temple to the Hindu god Rama on the site, which they revere as the god's birthplace.
The fundamentalists say the mosque should be razed to make way for a Hindu temple in this holy town 300 miles southeast of New Delhi. Hindus make up 82 percent of India's population. Moslems comprise 12 percent.
At least 45 people died in street battles Tuesday and Wednesday in six states, mostly in cities with large Moslem minorities, as the decades-old Hindu-Moslem dispute over the ownership of the site came to a head.
One Hindu man committed suicide Tuesday in protest.
Wednesday's deaths, from stabbings and shootings, occurred in what Indian news agencies described as mob violence in four cities in western and southern India. Indian news reports do not identify victims or give many details, in the belief that doing so would aggravate tensions.
In Bangladesh, gangs of Moslems armed with knives or clubs attacked at least 11 Hindu temples and smashed idols in the southern port of Chittagong Tuesday night to protest the Ayodhya episode. Hundreds of Hindu homes and shops were burned.