By Jatindra Dash
BHUBANESWAR, India (Reuters) - At least three people protesting against plans for a $12 billion steel project by South Korea's POSCO in southeastern India were killed by crude bombs on Saturday, police said.
Police said those killed in the village of Patna in Odisha state were probably making the bombs themselves, but a protest group spokesman said the dead activists were victims of an attack by supporters of the steel project.
"We strongly condemn this barbaric and inhuman killing of innocent villagers and strongly demand the arrest of the culprits immediately," said Prashant Paikary, a spokesman for POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, which is spearheading protests.
Another protester was critically injured, police said.
POSCO, the world's fifth-biggest steelmaker by output, signed a pact with the state government in 2005 for a 12 million metric ton-a-year (1.1023 tons) plant on 1,600 hectares (4,000 acres) of land.
Odisha, formerly called Orissa, has already acquired half the land and has been acquiring more despite local protests.
The latest incident came days after media reports the government might resume taking over land from farmers in a few days.
"We are trying to proceed in a peaceful manner. We do not want violence in the area" said a senior Posco official, who did not want to be named.
(Reporting by Jatindra Dash; Editing by Jason Webb)