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Fresh violence erupts in Bangladesh tribal region

DHAKA, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Bangladesh deployed the army at another southeastern hill town on Tuesday after 100 houses were burnt in fresh clashes between Buddhist tribals and Bengali Muslim settlers, police and witnesses said.

More than 50 people were injured in Khagrachhari town in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, 300 km (188 miles) southeast of Dhaka, after settlers attacked tribals who were protesting against deadly clashes on Saturday between the two groups.

Thousands of landless Bengalis were settled in the 5,500-sq- miles (14,200 sq km) region, bordering India and Myanmar, under a government plan in the 1980s to ease population pressure in the plains and also to defuse a tribal insurgency.

Relations between the settlers and the tribal groups have been tense over land ownership, often leading to violence.

On Saturday at least two tribals were killed and around 100 others including settlers were injured before the army brought the situation under control in Baghaichhari, a town 80 km (50 miles) northeast of Khagrachhari.

A tribal organisation, the United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF), called for the protests, including a blockade of roads in the hill towns.

The Bangladesh government signed a peace deal in 1987 with tribal Shanti Bahini guerrillas who had waged a 25-year insurgency for political autonomy in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

The UPDF is opposed to the deal, saying it has failed to establish the rights of tribal people.

Reporting by Nizam Ahmed; Editing by Anis Ahmed and Bill Tarrant