A TIGER prowling for food has killed seven people in northern India in the past two weeks, forcing thousands of terrified villagers to stay inside while hunters try to kill the animal.

The latest victim was a woman whose body was found in a forest in Uttar Pradesh state, said Rupak De, the principal chief conservator of forests.

The female tiger has been on the prowl across an area spanning some 80 miles.

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Mr De said: "It must still be hungry because it has been running without rest and adequate food."

Reports that a killer tiger was on the loose began last month when a 65-year-old man was mauled in Sambhal district.

Salim Luqmaan, a government official in Moradabad, said: "People are terrified. They have been asked not to go near forest areas alone. Three hunters have been hired to kill the tigress."

The tiger is believed to have strayed into the area from a national park.

Wildlife activist and MP Meneka Gandhi has appealed to Uttar Pradesh's government not to shoot the tiger.