Anger on the streets : An Indian activist of a leftist party wearing a mask mocking US President George W. Bush gestures during an anti-Bush protest rally, in Hyderabad, central India.
Fri Mar 3, 11:31 AM ET
Three people were killed and several injured when protests in northern India against US President George W. Bush's visit turned into street riots between Hindus and Muslims.
Police used teargas and truncheons to break up violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state, police told AFP.
"Two of those killed are Hindus and one is a Muslim," said local government official Ghulam Abbas.
Two of the victims were shot dead, one of them a 15-year-old girl, while the a third man died in hospital after sustaining a gunshot wound, Abbas said.
Seventeen others had been admitted to hospital with injuries, he added.
Earlier police chief Ashutoch Pandey told AFP the riots had been sparked by anti-Bush protests.
"Muslims after offering prayers went around ordering shops to down their shutters to protest President Bush's visit to India which sparked off the clashes because the Hindus objected," Pandey said.
The rioters, brandishing sticks and hurling stones and firebombs, damaged automobiles, torched two-wheelers and set fire to an unspecified number of shops in Lucknow's Ameenabad commercial district, witnesses said.
"The rioting started in Ameenabad and spread to the Muslim quarters of Lucknow," a police official said, citing reports he received on his wireless radio.
The rioting also spread to the city's upscale Hazratganj district where protestors smashed store windows and looted goods after setting fire to vehicles abandoned by shoppers, he said.
"The violence spread like wildfire and we have now slapped prohibitory orders across the city banning gatherings of more than five people," an official said.
Pandey said police were using teargas grenades to disperse rioters, many of whom were seen carrying anti-Bush posters.