A bomb killed an opposition politician in southern India yesterday, triggering riots among his supporters.

Dozens of buses were burned and government offices destroyed in the riots.

There were no immediate reports of injuries as a result of the rioting in Andhra Pradesh.

Paritala Ravi, a guerrilla leader-turned-politician who had his own private militia, was killed when attackers threw homemade bombs at him as he arrived for a meeting at an office of his Telugu Desam Party in Anantapur town, said district police superintendent S.R. Praveen Kumar.

The attack also killed a member of Ravi's police security team and one of his friends. Many politicians in the state have private armies to settle scores.

The attackers escaped on a scooter, Kumar said. He gave no further details.

Ravi's party quickly blamed the attack on its main political rivals, the state's ruling Congress party, and called for statewide protests.

Fearing violence, Anantapur's shops and offices immediately closed as Ravi's supporters started rioting.

The violence spread through the state, and more than 50 state-owned buses, seen as a symbol of the government, were burned. Mobs also attacked government and Congress offices.

Ravi renounced guerrilla warfare about 10 years ago and was pardoned in return. He had been a member of a group fighting for a separate Maoist state in the region.

It was not the first assassination attempt on Ravi. In 1997, he narrowly escaped a car bomb blast at a gala film opening. Ravi escaped, but the attack killed 23 people and injured 31, mostly movie-makers, fans and journalists.

A Congress party leader, D. Suryanarayana Reddy, and several others were convicted in the case and sentenced to life in prison.