Protests over Facebook offensive against Muslims kill three in India

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Three people have died and dozens have been injured, including police officers, after violent protests erupted outside a police station in Bengaluru, India.

The outrage was sparked by a provocateur – who is linked to a local politician – accused of posting derogatory content related to the Prophet Muhammad on Facebook, police said on Wednesday.

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Rioters burned public and police vehicles, threw stones and attacked the house of the politician whose family was at the center of the allegations. The message has since been deleted and the person believed to be responsible for it has been arrested, police said.

A woman and child walk past the wreckage of vehicles and furniture burnt during violent protests in Bengaluru, India on Wednesday August 12, 2020 (AP Photo)

“Three people died in the police action and more than 110 people were arrested for attacking the police station,” police officer Kamal Pant said. At least 60 police officers were injured in Tuesday night’s violence in Bengaluru, also known as Bangalore.

Pant said police fired live ammunition in self-defense to disperse the crowd after initially using tear gas and batons.

Authorities then banned large gatherings and tightened security throughout the city.

“Things are peaceful now,” Pant said.

A police officer lashes out at a motorist for breaking ban orders a day after violent protests in Bengaluru, India on Wednesday August 12, 2020 (AP Photo)

Muslims and Hindus across India have a long history of tension and pockets of violence have returned in recent years, fueled by the policies of the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which has held power since 2014.

Meanwhile, Muslim leaders have urged angry groups to stop the uprising on Tuesday and remain peaceful.

The violence in southern India comes months after community riots in the nation’s capital, New Delhi, in which more than 55 people, mostly Muslims, have been killed.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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