BHUABENESWAR, INDIA (BosNewsLife)-- Tens of thousands of Christians, most of them Catholics, were hiding Saturday, August 30, in the jungles of India's eastern state of Orissa where anti-Christian violence killed at least 36 people, Catholic officials said.
Archbishop Raphael Cheenath, who leads the Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Archdiocese in Orissa, claimed more than 80 priests and nuns from his diocese were among 50,000 refugees who fled "for their lives" since last weekend, when Hindu militants began attacking Christians.
"There's a danger of [more] attacks and they are advised not to go home. They have gone into hiding into the forests," said Cheenath in a statement obtained by BosNewsLife. "Their houses have been totally destroyed," he added.
Earlier reports said 11 people died, but the influential advocacy group Global Council of Indian Christians claimed at least 36 people were killed in Orissa's worst communal violence in a decade. The different figures could not immediately be reconciled as investigations continued Saturday, August 30, in remote areas of Orissa.