GUWAHATI - Four Muslims have been shot dead in India’s restive northeast in the latest outbreak of ethnic violence which has claimed 10 lives this week, officials said Saturday.

Heavily armed gunmen attacked the village of Joraibari in the western Kokrajhar district late Friday, 230 kilometres from the state of Assam’s main city of Guwahati, authorities said.

“Three members of a family and another (distant) relative were shot dead by unidentified gunmen,” Biswajit Daimary, a member of parliament and leader of the Bodoland People’s Party (BPF), told AFP by telephone from Kokrajhar.

A young teenager was also critically injured in the shooting.

The government said there had been a “massive deployment of army, police, and paramilitary troopers” to quell the fighting between indigenous Bodo tribes and Muslim settlers who have been embroiled for years in territorial disputes.

All the victims were Muslims.

“The situation is tense,” Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi told reporters. “The death toll in fresh clashes in the past week has gone up to 10 and we’re trying our best to control the situation with a very firm hand,” he said.

An indefinite curfew has been clamped on the Kokrajhar district and soldiers are conducting counter-insurgency operations in troubled areas, police said.

A father, whose 14-year-old son was critically injured in the shootings, said families were about to sleep when around a dozen masked gunmen “barged into our homes and fired indiscriminately using automatic weapons”.

“I saw four people shot dead and my son injured by at least three bullets,” Basit Ali, a resident of Joraibari, said. Two more people were also injured in the attack.

Clashes between the Bodos and the Muslim settlers in July left at least 80 dead and displaced 450,000 people. Some 100,000 people remain in relief camps. Police said they arrested a leader of the Bodoland People’s Party, Mono Kumar Brahma on Saturday.

, on accusations of fomenting violence and alleged they had seized two AK-47 rifles and live ammunition from his house.

“The situation is turning from bad to worse and we anticipate even more trouble,” said Daimary whose party is an ally of the ruling Congress party in Assam state.

Northeast India, linked to the rest of the country by a narrow land bridge, has seen decades of friction among ethnic and separatist groups, although some rebels have recently started peace talks with the government.

More than 10,000 people have lost their lives to unrest in the tea- and oil-rich state of Assam during the past two decades.