Indian Christians Afraid Again After New Slaying

BHUBANESWAR, India, FEB. 24, 2009 ( The slaying of another Christian in the Eastern Indian state of Orissa has rekindled fears among a population driven from their homes by a wave of persecution at the hands of Hindu extremists.

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Hrudyananda Nayak, 45, was found dead last Thursday, showing signs of a violent end to his life, Aid to the Church in Need reported.

Ongoing Hindu-Christian tensions in India flared into a wave of violence at the end of last August, after extremists blamed the slaying of a Hindu leader on Christians. Dozens of Christians, including a priest, were killed and thousands fled their homes.

More than 10,000 of those same Christians are still living in displacement camps. According to Father Madan Singh, spokesman for Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, «People from relief camps have been slowly returning to their villages. But after this incident, the fear has been doubled, movement has been controlled, suspicion has increased.»

Rudangia, a mainly Christian village about 161 miles (260 kilometers) from the state capital Bhubaneswar, bore the brunt of the violence that erupted in the region during Christmas 2007 and again last August.

According to Aid to the Church in Need, latest reports state 80 people were killed as extremists went on the rampage in nearly 300 villages with destruction to some 6,000 homes and about 300 churches.

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