| GEO World|
| Hindu-Christian clashes kill 9 in eastern India|
| Updated at: 1815 PST, Friday, August 29, 2008|
BHUBANESHWAR: Security forces were ordered Wednesday to shoot on sight protesters defying a curfew meant to end clashes between Christians and Hindus that have left 9 people dead in eastern India over the past three days.
Violence has rocked Orissa state since Monday when Hindu hard-liners set ablaze a Christian orphanage, killing a Christian woman and seriously injuring a priest, and has spread to include mob attacks on churches, shops and homes.
Pope Benedict XVI condemned the violence. During his weekly audience Wednesday in the Vatican City, the pope said he was ``profoundly saddened'' by news of the attacks on Christian communities in eastern India and was against ``any attack on human life.''
The pope also said the killing of a Hindu leader and four others in Orissa state on Saturday was ``deplorable.'' Police have blamed Maoist rebels for the attack, but Subhash Chauhan, a World Hindu Organization leader, said ``Christian militants'' were responsible.
Police imposed a curfew in the Kandhamal district of Orissa stateon Tuesday after attacks by radical Hindus seeking to avenge their leader's death. But the attacks have continued and on Wednesday authorities issued a shoot-on-sight order for anyone defying the curfew, said Satyabrata Sahoo, a top state official.
Sahoo would not say if the 10 killed since the orphanage was torched were Hindus or Christians.
He said the dead included one person trapped in a home that wasset on fire Wednesday in the village of Phiringia, about 170 miles(280 kilometers) west of Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Orissa state.
Another person was doused with kerosene and burned to death by a mob Tuesday night in the nearby village of Mukandpur, Sahoo said.
He said another four people were killed in the region Monday night, including two people burned alive when their hut was set on fire.
The state's top elected official, Navin Patnaik, said four people were killed Tuesday in an exchange of gunfire between rival groups in the nearby village of Barakhama..