India Violence Death Toll Passes 600
By David Brunnstrom

AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters) - The death toll in the western Indian state of Gujarat from the worst Hindu-Muslim bloodshed in a decade has climbed above 600 after more bodies were discovered, police say.

But they said on Wednesday he state was mostly peaceful apart from a few isolated incidents.

Authorities scouring the burnt out wrecks of homes and shops recovered 29 bodies overnight, taking the official toll to 602.

That included 58 people burned to death after a Muslim mob attacked a train carrying Hindu pilgrims last Wednesday, sparking a wave of reprisal killings of Muslims.

"These are all bodies which are being recovered from earlier incidents, some from urban areas and some from rural areas," senior state government official Ashok Narayan told Reuters.

"The state is in fact quite peaceful except for some tension in select pockets."

A mass burial of about 200 bodies is planned for Wednesday.

As authorities brace for a future backlash, the national government is locked in talks with its hardline Hindu affiliate, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), over divisive plans to build a temple on a contested site sacred to Hindus and Muslims.

Muslim leaders have warned the campaign to build a temple on what the VHP regards as the birthplace of the god king Ram in the town of Ayodhya could trigger more communal violence.

Courts have banned construction on the site until a decades-long legal battle decides the issue.

Hindu extremists destroyed a 400-year-old mosque on the site in December, 1992, sparking nationwide riots which killed more than 3,000 people -- the worst religious upheaval since a million died when the subcontinent was split into mainly Hindu India and Islamic Pakistan in 1947.

The victims of last week's train massacre were returning from a religious vigil in Ayodhya blessing the temple project.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, reeling from a severe setback in key state elections and juggling an explosive military standoff with nuclear rival Pakistan, has been accused of failing to do enough to rein in Hindu radicals.

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