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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Riots in India Leave Hundreds Dead

AHMEDABAD, India -- Killings in India's worst Hindu-Muslim bloodshed in a decade eased Sunday, but the death toll jumped to almost 500 as scores more bodies were pulled from the rubble.

In the bloodiest incident overnight, a mob burned four people alive in Palampur, a town in the state of Gujarat. Police opened fire to disperse the attackers, killing one.

A senior government security official said the toll from the rioting across Gujarat had risen to 478, including 58 Hindus burned alive last week when a suspected Muslim mob torched a train, triggering the wave of revenge killings.

"The figure has gone up not because of fresh incidents but the recovery of bodies is being reported from different areas," said government official Ashok Narayan. The official toll on Saturday was about 350.

Thousands of soldiers are patrolling the state's main city, Ahmedabad, and some other hotspots, but have yet to reach Gujarat's more remote villages.

Telling horrific tales, victims urged the government to act.

"Both Hindus and Muslims have gone mad -- otherwise how could people kill each other," said Thodaji Nagai Prajapati, a 46-year-old driver covered in burns and bandages, in his hospital bed.

Moin-uddin Sheikh, a 31-year-old baker, watched his family die in an attack Friday in which 65 Muslims were burned alive.

"I saw my father, sister and mother being burned alive. Despite pleas for help, nobody came to our rescue," he said. "Will someone take action against them for being responsible for my family's brutal killing?"

There were sporadic incidents in Gujarat on Sunday, but no major attacks and a curfew was relaxed in some areas.

Many of the dead were burned alive when mobs attacked Muslim homes and shops. Trying to impose control, police shot dead 80 people.

The president of neighboring Islamic Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, on Saturday pressed India to do more to protect its Muslim minority -- one of the world's largest Muslim populations.

"The carnage must be brought to an end. All those responsible for the violence need to be arrested and punished," said Musharraf.

Pakistan, which borders Gujarat, and Bangladesh, to India's east, last week boosted security for their Hindu minorities.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has urged calm and appealed to Hindu nationalists to shelve divisive plans to build a temple on a site sacred to both Hindus and Muslims in the northern Indian city of Ayodhya.

The Hindus who died in the train fire, mostly women and children, were returning from a vigil in Ayodhya in support of the temple project, due to begin on March 15 in defiance of court orders.

The speaker of the Indian parliament's lower house, G.M.C. Balayogi, was killed when his helicopter crashed into a pond on Sunday, police said.

Balayogi's helicopter developed a technical problem while flying to the Andhra Pradesh state capital, Hyderabad, after he attended a peace group meeting in the town of Bhimavaram, a state police official said.

The helicopter hit a coconut tree and crashed into a pond minutes after taking off, police said.