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By Subrata Nag Choudhury

SAHIBGANJ, India (Reuters) - An elephant blamed for killing more than a dozen people in the eastern Indian states of Jharkhand and Bihar was shot dead on Friday, after an elaborate hunt that involved dozens of forest officials and a sharpshooter.

State forest official N. K. Singh said the team was assembled was after the elephant, believed to be 20-25 years old, had killed 11 people in the state since March and had damaged some houses.

Singh said the elephant was also believed to have killed four people in the neighbouring state of Bihar before that.

Sharpshooter Shafath Ali Khan said in an interview that he first came upon the animal on Thursday, and fired a tranquilizer dart into the elephant's neck but did not bring it down.

The animal escaped, but Khan later shot and killed the elephant with a .458 calibre magnum rifle.

Khan said it was the seventh elephant he had killed, adding that in the past he had also killed five tigers and eight leopards that had threatened people in other parts of the country.

Forest officials removed the elephant's tusks and planned to bury the animal in the forest with salt and some flowers.

(Additional reporting by Jatindra Dash; Writing by Paritosh Bansal)

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Reuters