[Associated Press] 15 Oct 2008--ndian church leaders said Tuesday that Christians killed in recent clashes were "sacrificial lambs" targeted by hard-line Hindus seeking an advantage in upcoming national elections.
The All India Christian Council said the toll after nearly two months of sporadic violence has reached 59 dead and 50,000 displaced. Officials in the eastern state of Orissa, site of the worst violence, say 34 people have been killed.
The recent violence began after Hindu activists blamed Christians for the slaying of a Hindu leader killed in Orissa on Aug. 23. Retaliatory attacks left scores dead, dozens of churches destroyed and thousands of people homeless, despite the government's claim that Maoists killed the Hindu leader.