Police arrested five men Tuesday after hundreds of angry residents of a north Indian city attacked Africans with sticks and metal chairs following the death of a local teenager from a suspected drug overdose.
Around a dozen people were wounded in the violence late Monday in Greater Noida, a satellite city of New Delhi where hundreds of African students are based.
“Rumours were being spread that Africans are behind the youth’s death and racist comments were made on social media. It looks racially motivated,” senior police officer Sujata Singh told.
“Five attackers have been arrested and four others are on the run,” she said, adding that 300 people were involved in the rioting.
The violence came after police released five African students detained over the youth’s death without bringing charges, citing a lack of evidence.
Singh said around 500 people had assembled to hold a candle-lit vigil to demand justice for the teenager, and became violent after spotting a group of Nigerians.
One television station showed an angry mob hitting a car with sticks, while another showed dozens of attackers hitting shoppers in a mall with metal chairs.
Africans living in India frequently face discrimination and even violence, and are often accused of involvement in the illegal drug trade.
The issue was thrown into the spotlight after a Congolese national was stoned to death last year in a dispute over an auto-rickshaw.
After that, African ambassadors in New Delhi threatened to advise students from their countries to avoid schools in the capital for their own safety.
India’s foreign minister said authorities were investigating the attacks.
“There will be a fair and impartial investigation into this unfortunate incident,” Sushma Swaraj tweeted.
The latest attack stemmed from the death of a local 16-year-old from an apparent drug overdose.
Police detained five Nigerian students in connection with the case after a group of local people went to their home and accused them of murder.
The students were later released after police failed to find any evidence against them.
African student leader Samuel Jack said Monday’s attack was just the latest example of racist violence against them.
“We are targeted because of our colour,” Jack told, adding that many African students were leaving the area out of fear.