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Six children killed by packs of feral dogs in Sitapur, India

Attacks by feral dogs in northern India have killed six children in the past week, police have said.

The children, aged between five and 12, were killed in the town of Sitapur in the state of Uttar Pradesh, about 50 miles between the state capital Lucknow and the Nepalese border.

At least two dozen more youngsters have been injured in attacks, authorities say.

People in Sitapur believe the attacks have been prompted by the closure of an illegal slaughterhouse nearby, saying the lack of food could have made them more aggressive.

School attendance has dropped, education officials have warned, as parents keep their children home if they are unable to accompany them.

Activists are killing any dogs they encounter, police say. Dog catching units are shooting and strangling the wild animals and have destroyed 24 in recent days.

Senior officer Anand Kulkarni said many of the attacks occurred when children were out gathering mangoes or using outside lavatories.

Officials said a total of 12 children have been killed in dog attacks since November.

It is not known how many dogs were involved in the attacks, but strays are a widespread problem in India, where millions of the animals roam loose in packs.

Injuries from feral dog attacks are common but a large number of fatalities in one area is rare.

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