3 killed as fresh violence rocks Indian eastern state

India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party activists clash with police during a rally in Kolkata in this June 12, 2019 file photo. — AFP

KOLKATA, India — Armed mobs rampaged through a town in India's West Bengal state on Thursday, hurling homemade bombs and firing weapons in new political clashes that left at least three people dead, police said.

Police ordered a curfew in Barrackpore, near the state capital Kolkata, amid accusations by one political leader that the three were killed by police firing.

Nearly 20 people have been killed in West Bengal since April in fighting between members of Narendra Modi's ruling party and the regional Trinamool Congress which runs the state.

The clashes erupted as India went to the polls in its mammoth election in April and May, ahead of which Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party had campaigned aggressively in West Bengal.

Police said four people were injured in violence in Barrackpore, prompting police to fire tear gas and use live fire to disperse attackers.

A police official said masked youths threw homemade bombs and waved guns as they ran through the streets.

Police did not give the cause of the deaths but a local BJP MP, Arjun Singh, blamed the Trinamool Congress and said the victims died in police firing.

West Bengal home secretary Alapan Banerjee accused "anti-social" elements of creating the disturbances.

The BJP and Trinamool Congress have accused each other of instigating the unrest in West Bengal, which has a history of political violence in recent decades.

In the elections, the BJP increased its tally of seats in the state to 18 from just two, making a key contribution to Modi's landslide victory. — AFP