30 Aug 2008

Catholic schools shut in India

8:48 am on 30 August 2008

Thousands of Catholic schools are shut across India in protest against continuing anti-Christian violence in the eastern state of Orissa.

Eleven people have died after a Hindu leader was killed in the state's Kandhamal district last Saturday.

The attack led to days of rioting between Hindu and Christian communities. Hindu mobs have burnt down monasteries, churches and an orphanage run by Christians.

Authorities said Maoist rebels were behind the killing, but some Hindu groups have accused Christians.

Over 3000 police have been deployed but attacks on churches continue. Hundreds of Christians have fled their homes.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the violence as a "national disgrace". The Pope has condemned the violence.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of India has announced that all Catholic schools and colleges across India would remain closed on Friday.

The organisation runs almost 25,000 schools and colleges in India. Some non-Catholic Christian schools have also closed for the day.