NEW DELHI: Roaming packs of feral dogs have killed six children in the past week in northern India, according to police.
The children, aged between five and 12, were killed in and around the town of Sitapur, about 50 miles from Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state.
At least two dozen more youngsters have been injured in attacks, which have terrified villagers who have begun keeping their children at home and killing any dogs they encounter.
Senior police officer Anand Kulkarni said many of the attacks occurred when children were out gathering mangoes or using outside toilets.
Twelve children have been killed in dog attacks in the area since November, officials said.
India has millions of strays that wander the streets in even the most exclusive neighbourhoods. While injuries from dog attacks are fairly common, a string of fatalities in one area is rare. Some villagers believe the attacks began after a nearby illegal slaughterhouse was closed, making the dogs more aggressive after they were left without a major source of food.
The recent deaths included three children killed by a pack of strays on May 1, Mr Kulkarni said. Two more children were killed on May 4.
On Friday, a seven-year-old girl named Gita had gone with two other children to pick mangoes from an orchard when a pack of dogs attacked them, police said.