Eleven Muslim settlers killed in militant attacks in India's Assam

GUWAHATI, India - Suspected tribal rebels in India shot dead 11 Muslim settlers, including two women, in attacks in the northeastern tea-growing state of Assam where tension is running high during an election, officials said on Friday.

Police said they suspected the militants behind the overnight killings were members of the Bodo tribe.

Bodo people have frequently clashed with Muslims they say have illegally entered from neighbouring Bangladesh and encroached on their ancestral lands in the hills. "The authorities will take firm action against those involved in this crime," said state government spokesman Nilamoni Sen Dena.

Police reinforcements were sent to the two districts where the attacks took place, which have a history of sectarian violence.

Candidates in India's general election, including opposition front runner Narendra Modi, have contributed to anti-Bangladeshi feeling in Assam.

Modi last week said immigrants from Bangladesh in a nearby state should have their "bags packed" in case he came to power.

Election results are due on May 16.

In the first incident, the militants shot dead three members of a family, including two women, while wounding a baby, police said. "The gunmen entered the house and shot them dead on the spot," a senior police officer in the state capital with knowledge of the investigation told Reuters.

In the second incident, seven people were killed by a group of guerrillas, he said.

Two years ago, 40 people were killed in clashes between Bodo people and Muslim settlers in the same district.