At least six people were killed and 50 injured on Thursday in separate bombings in Guwahati, police said, blaming the United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) for the attacks.
The serial blasts on the first day of the new year took place as Home Minister P. Chidambaram was about to reach Guwahati on an official visit to review security in the Northeast. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to arrive in the city on Friday before leaving for Shillong on Saturday to inaugurate the Indian Science Congress.
Two of the bombs went off in crowded marketplaces while the third explosion was reported beside a road, officials said.
<b1>Guwahati City SSP P Saloi said the first explosion took place in a dustbin at Birubari Tiniali at 3.15 pm. Three persons were injured in the low-intensity blast.
At 5.40 pm, militants triggered another blast at an evening vegetable market at Bhootnath in the city. “At Bhootnath, militants planted the bomb in a bicycle. Twenty-two persons were injured, five of them seriously,” said Saloi.
The third blast took place in front of Munni Market in Bhangagarh area on the busy Guwahati-Shillong road. Twenty-five people were injured. All of them have been admitted to the Gauhati Medical College hospital.
Director General of Assam Police G.M. Srivastava said the blasts were the handiwork of Ulfa militants. He said the police had prior information about a few members of the Ulfa’s 709 battalion being in the city to trigger blasts on December 31 and January 1.
“After the intelligence input, we stepped up security measures in Guwahati. On December 31, we foiled the Ulfa. But they were able to plant a bomb at Bhootnath vegetable market. In the other two cases, they just dumped the bombs and fled,” said Srivastava.
Bhootnath falls on the route Chidambaram was supposed to take. The HM is expected to take stock of the situation arising out of the blasts. He’ll also attend a meeting of the Unified Command Structure of police, paramilitary forces and army on Friday.
The latest blasts were the first terror attack since the Mumbai strikes that left 172 people dead.
On October 30 last year 71 people were killed and scores hurt when a series of bombs exploded in towns and cities across Assam. The Centre blamed the ULFA but it denied involvement. A group calling itself the “Islamic Security Force-Indian Mujahideen” later claimed responsibility.