Survivors huddle after violence in India kills 72

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Survivors huddle after violence in India kills 72
Villagers move to a relief camp, following attacks allegedly by National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) militants at Gossaigaon, in Kokrajhar District of northeastern Assam state on December 25, 2014. More than 2,000 people have fled their homes in the restive Indian state of Assam after separatist rebels killed dozens of villagers, some of them children, an official said. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)
Homes of Bodo people burn in Kamarapura village, allegedly set alight by Adivasi tribals in retaliation following attacks allegedly by National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) militants at Gossaigaon, in Kokrajhar District of northeastern Assam state on December 25, 2014. More than 2,000 people have fled their homes in the restive Indian state of Assam after separatist rebels killed dozens of villagers, some of them children, an official said. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian tribal villager or Adivasi stands with a bow and arrow as homes burn in the village of Tenganala in Sonitpur District, some 250kms east of Guwahati on December 24, 2014, after Adivasi tribals were killed by militants. Violence in the restive Indian state of Assam has killed 68 people including 12 children, authorities said, as separatist rebels dramatically intensified a long-running campaign in the tea-growing area. Heavily armed militants launched a series of coordinated attacks in rural Assam late December 22, pulling villagers from their homes and shooting them at point-blank range, witnesses said. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian Adivasi tribesmen brandish bows and arrows as they guard their village at Tinikhuti in Sonitpur district, some 250kms from Guwahati, India's northeastern Assam state, on December 25, 2014. More than 2,000 people have fled their homes in the restive Indian state of Assam after separatist rebels killed dozens of villagers, some of them children, an official said December 25. Residents sought shelter in makeshift camps set up by the state government following a series of coordinated attacks by armed rebels Tuesday that left at least 69 people dead, 18 of them children. AFP PHOTO/BIJU BORO (Photo credit should read BIJU BORO/AFP/Getty Images)
An Indian villager mourns the death of a relative in Phulbari in Sonitpur district, some 250kms east of Guwahati on December 24, 2014, after heavily armed militants launched a series of coordinated attacks in rural Assam, pulling villagers from their homes and shooting them at point-blank range, witnesses said. Violence in the restive Indian state of Assam has killed 68 people including 12 children, authorities said, as separatist rebels dramatically intensified a long-running campaign in the tea-growing area. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)
Bodo villagers move to a safer place after their homes were attacked and set alight at Gossaigaon, in Kokrajhar District of northeastern Assam state on December 25, 2014. More than 2,000 people have fled their homes in the restive Indian state of Assam after separatist rebels killed dozens of villagers, some of them children, an official said. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)
An Indian villager mourns the death of a relative in Phulbari in Sonitpur district, some 250kms east of Guwahati on December 24, 2014, after heavily armed militants launched a series of coordinated attacks in rural Assam, pulling villagers from their homes and shooting them at point-blank range, witnesses said. Violence in the restive Indian state of Assam has killed 68 people including 12 children, authorities said, as separatist rebels dramatically intensified a long-running campaign in the tea-growing area. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)
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SHAMUKJULI, India (AP) - Instead of celebrating Christmas in her home, Rina Vor and her four young children were huddled in a church Thursday along with hundreds of other survivors of a rebel massacre that killed 72 members of her tribe.

Vor said she putting her kids to sleep in her village in India's remote northeast when she heard the gunfire. She quickly gathered the children and ran to the church for safety, leaving behind her house and belongings.

The attacks late Tuesday in Assam state's Sonitpur and Kokrajhar districts - the worst in months in the ethnically mixed region - were carried out by a faction of an indigenous Bodo tribe, which has been fighting for a separate homeland for decades. The rebels have been targeting other communities they consider outsiders - Adivasis, whose ancestors migrated to Assam more than 100 years ago to work on tea plantations - as well as Muslims, accusing them and the federal government of exploiting the region's wealth while neglecting the locals.

The violence has left at least 10,000 people dead, most of them civilians, in the last three decades. In May, the same rebel faction called the National Democratic Front of Bodoland shot and killed more than 30 Muslims.

In the latest attack, the area of Shamukjuli saw some of the worst bloodshed with 26 people killed. Police said many were women and children.

"There will be no celebrations for Christmas for us," Vor said as she wept.

The Adivasis are a mix of Hindus and Christians, and many like Vor were preparing for Christmas when the attack took place.

In a nearby school that opened its doors to the refugees, 7-year-old Sanjlai Hemrom looked afraid and traumatized as he sat silently with his younger brother. Villagers said the boys lost both parents in the attacks.

A curfew remained in the two districts Thursday, but there were no reports of fresh violence, said S.N. Singh, a local police official.

Bodos make up 10 percent of Assam's 33 million people and took up arms as long-simmering tensions over land and jobs morphed into the ethnic violence pitting one tribe against another. They are among dozens of rebel groups fighting the government and sometimes each other in seven states in northeast India.

The rebels may have been provoked by heavy losses they suffered recently as police intensified operations against the group, Singh said.

There were concerns the violence could spill over.

Following the attacks, angry Adivasis surrounded a police station in Sonitpur on Wednesday and attempted to attack the officers inside, police said. Police opened fire, killing three, Singh said.

He also said there were incidents of Bodo homes being attacked, but troops had managed to control the situation.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condemned the attacks, and the Home Ministry rushed several thousand federal paramilitary troops to the region.

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