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Orissa remains tense; death toll rises to 14
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August 30, 2008 16:30 IST
Last Updated: August 30, 2008 17:21 IST

Protesters torched 24 houses in Kandhamal on Saturday as the death toll in the week-long communal violence rose to 14, with the recovery of two more bodies in the Orissa district.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was headed for the curfew-bound district to review the situation in the affected areas and the Ashram at Jalespeta, where Vishwa Hindu Parishad Laxamanada Saraswati was gunned down along with three others on August 23, leading to the violence.

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Official sources said Patnaik had decided to proceed to Kandhamal by road after inclement weather forced his chopper to return.

 Two highly decomposed bodies were recovered from Raikia area near Petapanga village of the district taking the death toll to 14, Suresh Mohapatra, a senior officer monitoring the situation in the district, said.

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Police said about 24 houses were torched at Katringia, Kanibali, Baghdungri and some other villages under Gochapada panchayat area in the early hours of Saturday. There were, however, no reports of loss of life in the incident.

Police patrolling was intensified and security personnel were sent to remote areas of the tribal district.

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With the situation improving in urban areas, curfew was relaxed for 10 hours in most of them barring the sensitive Phulbani town, Baliguda, Tumudibandha, Barkhama, Raikia, G Udaygiri, Daringbadi and Tikabali.

Over 5,000 people are still hiding in the jungles, though over 10,000 others had returned and were accommodated in seven relief camps set up at G Udayagiri, Raikia, K.Nuagaon, Baliguda, Phiringia, Tikabali and Chakpada, the police said.

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So far, 137 people have been arrested in the district and 39 cases registered in connection with the violence, a senior police officer said.

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