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Gunfire Erupts as Police Clash with Squatters in Indian Park, 22 Killed | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Former homes of Indian members of a sect burn following clashes with police during an eviction at the Jawahar Bagh park in Mathura on Jun 2, 2016. (Photo: AFP/STR)

At least 22 people were killed after a clash between police and squatters in north India, officials said on Friday, also 2 police officers died throughout the violence which erupted during operation aimed to clear thousands of people from a public park.

Police began the operation to clear the park in Mathura, 140 km (85 miles) southeast of the capital New Delhi, on Thursday after a court ordered about 3,000 people to vacate the area.

Debashish Panda, the principal home secretary in Uttar Pradesh state, said police had initially responded to gunshots with tear gas and rubber bullets however later returned fire when the two police officers were killed.

Moreover,oOther officials said it was not instantly clear how the squatters died; thus the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state, where Mathura is located, has ordered an inquiry.

Around 200 members of the squatters’ group were also arrested.

Uttar Pradesh police chief Javeed Ahmed told reporters at the scene on Friday the group had set fire to their tents before abandoning the camp after the clashes.

“Subsequent searches by the police revealed that the activists of the group … had stored firearms and other weapons, including grenades, in the camp,” he said.