Bomb blasts killed eight people and injured 63 in Assam on Monday, a day before PM Manmohan Singh’s visit to the state. The outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) was suspected to be behind the blasts, which came a day ahead of its ‘raising day’. Blood Trail
The recent visits of home minister P Chidambaram and external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee to the state had also been preceded by blasts.
On Monday, the first, and most powerful, blast took place at 1.20 pm at Maligaon Chariali in Guwahati. Placed in a motorcycle parked outside a restaurant, the bomb killed seven people and injured 55.
The police said four people died on the spot. The injured included six students of Maligaon LP School, which is near the blast site. Two cars and 22 motorcycles were destroyed. “One person died after he jumped from the fourth floor of a building that caught fire after the explosion,” said witness Bataur Ali.
“The blast appears to have been the handiwork of ULFA,” said G.P. Singh, DIG (central western range). “We had alerted all police stations in the capital about possible strikes by the outfit prior to its raising day.”
Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi said, “The needle of suspicion is on ULFA.”
The second blast happened at Batasipur in Dhekiajuli town of Sonitpur district at 3.25 pm. The bomb was placed in a bicycle left outside a shop. Seven people were injured, three of them seriously.
Around 7 pm, suspected Ulfa militants lobbed a grenade at Mankachar police station in Dhubri district. A police driver, Shabbir Hussain, was killed and a constable injured.
Monday had begun with a harmless blast by tribal militant outfit Karbi Longri North Cachar Liberation Front at Santipur in Karbi Anglong district. The day ended with another ‘token’ IED blast by KLNLF militants at Jamphagaon near Barpathar in Karbi Anglong. No one was injured.
In Delhi, home ministry officials acknowledged there’d been intelligence on insurgent groups like Ulfa planning to carry out attacks ahead of the general election.
Manmohan Singh will visit Assam on Tuesday. In Delhi, PMO sources said Singh, who represents Assam in the Rajya Sabha, will address public meetings in Dispur and Dibrugarh.
(Inputs by Aloke Tikku in Delhi.)