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Massive anti-ULFA operations on

india Updated: Jan 09, 2007 16:39 IST
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The army is raiding separatist bases in the northeastern states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh after a wave of attacks targeting Hindi-speaking people left 69 dead, officials said on Tuesday.

Defence Minister AK Antony and army chief Gen JJ Singh arrive in Assam later on Tuesday to review the security situation at an army base in the northern garrison town of Tezpur.

Police said a Hindi-speaking migrant worker was killed and two more wounded late on Monday in eastern Dibrugarh district taking the toll in the weekend violence to 69.

"There have been no more overnight incidents of attacks reported so far," Assam government spokesperson Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

Authorities have blamed the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) for the latest attacks on poor Hindi-speaking migrant workers that began on Friday.

"Security forces have fanned out across the state with a high security alert already sounded to bring the situation under control," said Sarma, who is also the health minister.

Army, police and paramilitary troopers engaged in a massive anti-insurgency operation in Assam and adjoining Arunachal Pradesh where the ULFA has set up bases to carry out their hit-and-run guerrilla strikes.

"The joint offensive by security forces of both Assam and Arunachal Pradesh are on to track down ULFA rebels believed to be taking shelter here," said Arunachal Pradesh police chief Amod Kanth.

Five districts of Arunachal Pradesh share common borders with Assam; intelligence reports indicate that the ULFA is using at least three districts in the region as bases.

The security operation is mainly confined to the extremely hostile and thickly wooded terrain in Tirap, Changlang and Lohit districts of Arunachal Pradesh.

Details of the operation were not immediately known. Intelligence officials said the ULFA guerrillas used Arunachal Pradesh as a transit route to their training bases in Myanmar that adjoins the state.

Panic-stricken Hindi-speakers have started fleeing Assam fearing more attacks even as authorities in Assam herded hundreds of migrant workers in government-run shelters for security reasons.

"We don't want to get killed here," Rajbir Sahu, a Bihari migrant working in a brick kiln in eastern Assam, said as he boarded a train out of Assam.

Most of the victims were from Bihar who had made Assam their home for decades and doing odd jobs as brick kiln workers, fishermen and daily wage earners.

But many of those who are settled in Assam for generations have decided to fight back.

"The attacks are perpetrated by a terrorist group. The general Assamese people are not against us and so we have no plans to leave the state and instead fight back," said Kulesh Ranjan Jha, a 60-year-old coal trader at Tinsukia in eastern Assam. Jha's grandparents migrated to Assam a century back.

In 2000, ULFA militants killed at least 100 Hindi speaking people in Assam in a series of well-planned attacks after the rebel group vowed to free the state of all 'non-Assamese migrant workers'.

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