Five people were killed and nine others injured when militants blew up a part of a carriage, which doubled up as a luggage van, attached to the New Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express in Golaghat district of Assam early on Thursday.
A little-known militant tribal group, with links to the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa), claimed responsibility for the blast. The Adivasi National Liberation Army threatened more attacks unless its demand — for ST status to tribals in Assam — was met.
North-East Frontier Railway officials said the Dibrugarh-Delhi train was rocked by the explosion at 1.06 am near Chungajan station. All the victims in the non-AC carriage — introduced on public demand between Dibrugarh and Guwahati a couple of years ago — were Hindi-speaking male migrant workers.
Assam police's intelligence chief Khagen Sarma said it was not clear if the bomb had been planted on the tracks or in the carriage. "The explosion left a six-feet-wide crater and two concrete sleepers were damaged. But nothing (on where the bomb was actually planted) can be ascertained as yet," he said.
However, Havildar YK Upadhyay, who was in the carriage, said he had seen a man in his mid-20s placing a suitcase near the bathroom. "He had boarded the train at Mariani station but got down as soon as the train started moving," he said, adding the blast occurred shortly after, around 300 kms from Guwahati.
A high-level team of officials of the central government will visit Assam on Friday to assist the local authorities in the investigation.
Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta has spoken to the state chief secretary to take stock of the situation.
The damaged coach was replaced at Lumding and the train brought to Guwahati at 10.45 am. It left for New Delhi at 11.30 am.