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Pakistan Protests Indian Temple, Moslems Riot in Bangladesh

November 12, 1989

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) _ Moslems attacked Hindu shrines and burned shops in Bangladesh Saturday to protest the construction of a Hindu temple at a site in India also claimed sacred by Moslems.

In eastern India, mobs attacked four villages the day before, burning more than 100 huts and killing five people, in a wave of violence that began when militant Hindus organized processions celebrating the building of the temple.

In Moslem-dominated Pakistan, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on Saturday joined in denouncing the temple at the northern Indian town of Ayodha.

″This step is a willful desecration of an Islamic holy place and arouses the deepest resentment among Moslems all over the world,″ Ms. Bhutto said.

She said it was Pakistan’s policy not to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs but added the temple was a matter ″of deepest concern for Moslems both inside and outside India.″

Hindus, who make up 82 percent of India’s 880 million people, claim the site is the birthplace of the Lord Ram, an incarnation of Vishnu, one of the supreme trinity of Hindu gods.

Moslems, who form 11 percent of India’s population, are outraged that the temple is being built near the mosque of the 16th century Mogul emperor Babar.

Reporters in Bangladesh said Moslems set fire to more than 25 Hindu-owned shops and smashed idols at three temples in the town of Narsinghdi, 25 miles northeast of Dhaka. No injuries were reported.

Indian security troops were reinforced Thursday when the first foundation stones were laid for the temple in Ayodha, 325 miles southeast of New Delhi.

Sectarian violence between followers of the two faiths has claimed at least 300 lives in three states in northern India since militant Hindus announced plans to build the temple in August.

The violence in India Friday occurred in four villages near Bhagalpur, in the state of Bihar, about 635 miles southeast of New Delhi.

Press Trust of India did not identify the attackers or the victims. Indian news media rarely do so, but journalists who visited the area said most of those killed in the past have been Moslems.

About 87 percent of Bangladesh’s 110 million people are Moslem. Hindus form 12 percent of the population.

Update hourly