Two people were killed and seven others injured when militants opened fire at two houses in Parbatipur village in Assam’s easternmost Tinsukia district on Friday evening.
Police said that the attackers, suspected to be part of the United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (Ulfa -I) fired at the houses where people had gathered for the evening ‘Kirtan’.
Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal condemned the incident, which occurred under Doomdooma police station area, and directed officials to all that was necessary in nabbing the culprits. “The Friday evening incident in Doomdooma is an act of cowardice. Culprits involved in the attack will not be spared,” he said.
Security forces began combing operations to secure the area.
The deceased were identified as Kishori Shah and Rajesh Shah. The injured were taken to a local hospital in Doomdoom, and later shifted to Tinsukia civil hospital. Those grievously injured were taken to the Assam Medical College hospital in Dibrugarh.
The incident is the second attack on civilians this month; militants suspected to be from a breakaway faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland had opened fire on a market in Kokrajhar on August 6, killing 13.
However, this isn’t the first time Hindi speakers have been targeted in the state. Ulfa (I) insurgents have in the past attacked Hindi Speakers in upper Assam, particularly in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh district. Police say the faction have lost support in recent times, with group members leaning towards terrorism.
The banned Ulfa (I) faction has seemingly stepped up its activities in upper Assam ahead of Independence Day celebrations in the state.
Last Thursday, suspected Ulfa (I) members triggered an IED blast in front of tea estate in Philobari in Tinsukia district. Police said the perpetrators had snuck in to the district from neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh with the objective of creating disturbance.
The outfit also appealed to people to boycott the Independence Day celebrations.