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Four dead in Hindu-Muslim clashes

At least four people have been killed when police fired into groups of Hindus and Muslims clashing over disputed village land in western India.

Dozens more were injured as authorities imposed an indefinite curfew to restore peace in half a dozen villages hit by the violence in Rajasthan state.

The simmering land dispute erupted on Wednesday when mobs of Hindus and Muslims attacked each other with stones and clubs in Gopalgarh, a village nearly 95 miles north of Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan.

The violence soon spread to neighbouring areas that have a mixed population of Hindus and Muslims. Police have recovered four bodies from the area.

Five villagers sustained serious bullet injuries and have been admitted to hospital. Three policemen were injured in the clashes.

The Muslim community has been using the disputed land in Gopalgarh as a burial ground for several years. The Hindu community of shepherds and farmers has also staked claim to the land in a local court, which is yet to rule on the dispute.

Hindus make up more than 80% of India's population, and Muslims comprise nearly 14%.

Tensions remain between Hindus and Muslims since the partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan after independence from Britain in 1947. Although small clashes often break out in villages, India has not seen large-scale religious violence since 2002 when the neighbouring Gujarat state was hit by a wave of anti-Muslim riots.

It started after 59 Hindus were burnt to death in a train in Godhra. Local people accused Muslims of setting fire to the train and more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the subsequent riots.

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