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Indian police use elephants to clear squatters from protected habitat

Indian police have used elephants in an attempt to evict hundreds of people living illegally in a protected forest area in the country's remote north east.

Police used bulldozers and the elephants in an unusual show of force, and the forest dwellers responded by hurling rocks.

Police commissioner Hiren Nath said five protesters were injured in a scuffle after police used tear gas in the Amchang forest area in Assam state.

Authorities plan to demolish about 1,000 bamboo and tin huts.

State forestry minister Pramilla Brahma said the area is an elephant habitat and the unauthorised settlements were forcing the animals to leave in search of food.

There have been many incidents in which wild elephants have entered villages, destroying crops and even killing people.

Mr Nath said the police action followed a court order to clear the forest of illegal encroachment.

The eviction drive is being carried out by wildlife wardens, with police providing protection against possible attacks by angry residents.

AP

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