Five Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans were killed and at least 32 injured when suspected United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) militants triggered a powerful blast, targeting a CRPF bus in western's Assam Goalpara district on Friday morning.
The militant outfit claimed responsibility for the blast in the district's Solmari area, about 150 km west of Guwahati.
The improvised explosive device was planted in the middle of the road and reportedly triggered by a remote-controlled device at 8.15 am.
The bus was carrying CRPF jawans to their camp in Goalpara.
Four CRPF jawans were killed on the spot. Fifteen seriously injured jawans were shifted to the Gauhati Medical College Hospital. One jawan succumbed to his injuries on the way to the Guwahati hospital.
The slain jawans were identified as Poonam Sahu (from Gujarat), Randhir Singh (Punjab), Mangal Laik (West Bengal), H M Salem (Andhra Pradesh) and P N Rao (Andhra Pradesh).
In an e-mail to media houses, Anu Buragohain of Ulfa's publicity wing said the blast was the outfit's answer to the government's offensive against it.
The state government said Ulfa's faction led by Paresh Barua carried out the attack.
"We all know Paresh Barua and his followers are against talks with the government," Assam Revenue Minister Bhumidhar Barman said.
"The Paresh Barua faction is trying to derail the peace process."
Jailed Ulfa leaders such as Arabinda Rajkhowa are reportedly in favour of talks with the Centre.
Though Additional DGP (Special Branch), Assam, Khagen Sarma, confirmed that Ulfa carried out Friday's attack, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, speaking in Delhi, indicated that the anti-talk factions of Ulfa or the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) could be behind it.
(With inputs from PTI)