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7 killed, 55 injured in Assam blast

In another gruesome bomb explosion triggered by suspected ULFA militants in the Lower Assam township of Nalbari, around 7 people were killed and over 55 people were injured on Sunday.

, ET Bureau|
Nov 22, 2009, 11.17 PM IST
GUWAHATI: In another gruesome bomb explosion triggered by suspected ULFA militants in the Lower Assam township of Nalbari, around 7 people were killed and over 55 people were injured on Sunday.

Nalbari which is 70 km away from capital city Guwahati was once the bastion of the ULFA. However, over the years, it has turned out to be peaceful place. On Sunday, at around 9.55 am, close to the Nalbari police station, which is in the heart of the town, an explosion took place. The bomb was concealed in a bicycle.

Just 15 minutes later, another powerful explosion took place around 20 feet away from the spot of the first explosion. Five people died on spot. There was complete confusion and chaos in the township.

Sources in intelligence agencies added, "Already, inputs were there that nine member bombers from ULFA have sneaked to Nalbari with the specific task of carrying out subversive activities prior to the Protest Day on November 27. These cadres have sneaked in from Myanmar, Bhutan and Nagaland. The details of these cadres were provided in Assam police website."

Sources further said, "The nine cadres are Bosa Singh, Pinku Phukon, Upen Borgohain, Bimal Kalita, Swadhin Ray, Rajani Kanta Singha, Pulak Bharali, Hitesh Ray and Akon Moran."

The outfit observes November 27 as Protest Day following launching of operation against the outfit on 1991 and declaration of the outfit as banned.

Superintendent of police of the district, Jitmol Doley, told ET, "The first bomb was kept in a bicycle. Our investigation is on and only after investigations, can we say with certainty what was used to trigger the explosions."

Sources in the police are not ruling the possibility of the twin explosions being triggered as retaliatory attacks as two of the outfit's leaders -- self-styled foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury and finance secretary Chitrabon Hazarika were picked up by security forces. Both the leaders are presently under police custody in Assam.

Already, ULFA militants have demonstrated their retaliatory postures when they blew up wagons of a tanker train carrying high-speed diesel (HSD) and petrol early this week. Goods from the Numaligarh Refinery Limited were heading to Panki in Uttar Pradesh.

Hira Saraniya, commander of ULFA's 709 battalion, the battalion which has been believed to have masterminded Sunday's attack, called up media houses and claimed that the ULFA has no role in the explosions.

He argued that ULFA has the capability of triggering explosions at any place. However, with the process being initiated for starting peace talks with the government and ULFA, this may be the handiwork of a third force.

He stated that ULFA has never targeted innocent people. A senior official in the state police, however, is not ready to buy this argument. "Whenever there is human casualty, the ULFA denies it. There is nothing unusual in it. They are escaping from incurring public wrath."

Sources in the police said three explosions in less than a week's time might be an attempt of the ULFA to show their strength. "They want to show that they are capable of carrying out big strikes despite the arrest of two leaders. They want to convey the message that the outfit has enough fire power."

Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who is in New Delhi, condemned the twin blast. He said those responsible for it would be apprehended. "I have directed the district authorities to launch a massive operation and nab those involved in the bomb blasts immediately."

This explosion has taken at a time when the People's Committee for Peace Initiatives in Assam (PCPIA), an umbrella body of 28 different organizations of the state, was readying to take a delegation to New Delhi for pressurizing the Centre to start the peace process with banned outfit, ULFA. The delegation is likely to visit the state capital on November 22 to meet the Prime Minister and the union home minister, the leader of the opposition and leaders of North East MPs' Forum.
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