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Assam on high alert

india Updated: Jan 19, 2009 11:20 IST

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A maximum security alert has been sounded in Assam with intelligence reports about terrorists trying to stage violent attacks in the run-up to Republic Day, officials said in Guwahati on Monday.

A police spokesman said security forces have stepped up anti-insurgency operations with reports that the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) was planning to carry out violent strikes ahead of the January 26 celebrations.

"As always, the ULFA has been trying to carry out strikes in the lead up to January 26 and hence a massive security offensive and vigil is being carried out," Assam police chief GM Srivastava told IANS.

In the past two weeks, security forces have killed seven ULFA militants in separate encounters, including two of them on Sunday near Hajo, about 30 km west of Assam's main city Guwahati.

"Militants of the ULFA's 709 battalion have been trying to enter Guwahati and other towns ahead of Republic Day to create terror, but at the same time our security forces are on the job and hence been able to foil such attempts," the police chief said.

In separate raids, security forces have managed to recover a huge cache of arms, ammunition and explosives, including 27 AK 56 assault rifles seized from a village home in eastern Assam over the weekend.

"The militants are definitely trying to smuggle weapons and explosives, but the good thing is that we are getting tremendous support and cooperation from the local people who are helping the security forces in thwarting all nefarious designs," Srivastava said.

Militant groups in the northeastern states of Assam, Tripura and Manipur have for years boycotted national events to support various demands.

There are some 30 rebel groups operating in the region with demands ranging from secession to greater autonomy and the right to self-determination. More than 50,000 people have lost their lives to insurgency in the northeast since India's independence in 1947.