Who is responsible for Thursday’s strikes?
The banned ULFA is one of the prime suspects. But going by the modus operandi — precision of blasts, high casualty and choice of sites — officials did not rule out “Islamic groups”, particularly the Bangladeshi Harkat ul Jihad al Islami (HuJI) and their local allies. The blasts follow a pattern, similar to those in Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Delhi. Worst-case scenario: coordinated strikes.
Is the ULFA capable of triggering such blasts?
Yes. Due to a lack of foot soldiers and the growing influence of the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence and the Bangladeshi Directorate General of Forces Intelligence, the ULFA changed tack by the turn of the millennium and took to targeting civilians with hand grenades and improvised devices.
Are there other outfits with the ability to carry out bombings?
The disbanded Bodo Liberation Tigers had a lot of expertise. The Adivasi National Liberation Army, which was backed by Nagaland rebels, triggered a blast aboard the Rajdhani Express in 2007 killing six people.
Why blame Islamic groups then?
ULFA has issued a rare denial. As most leaders of the ULFA took shelter in Bangladesh, they came into contact with Islamic groups such as the HuJI and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen. Police said the ULFA has used some of the 16 homegrown Islamic rebel groups in the Northeast for outsourcing terror. The first of the major jihadi strikes – one ISI operative involved was later caught – was at Dimapur in Nagaland in October 2004. The blast killed 30.