Eight Hindi-speaking migrant workers were killed and three seriously wounded on Wednesday by separatists in Assam, the latest in a string of attacks ahead of the August 15 Independence Day celebrations.
A police spokesman said heavily armed militants late on Wednesday attacked Ampahar village in Karbi Anglong district, about 320 km east of Assam's main city of Guwahati.
"Eight Hindi-speaking people were killed and three critically wounded in the attack. The victims were from two families," Anurag Tankha, police chief of Karbi Anglong, told IANS over telephone.
The official said the attack was carried out jointly by the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the Karbi Longri National Liberation Front (KLNLF).
"The militants descended on the village and fired indiscriminately after dragging the people outside their homes," the official said.
The victims were all daily wage earners cultivating land of local tribal people in the area.
"The toll could mount as the condition of some of the injured was stated to be critical," Tankha said.
The fresh attacks on Hindi-speaking workers, all of them from the eastern state of Bihar who had made Assam their home for decades and doing odd jobs as brick kiln workers, fishermen, and as daily wage earners, comes after a deadly wave of killings in January.
About 60 Hindi-speakers were killed in January prompting New Delhi to launch a massive military crackdown in Assam against the ULFA.
The state has been rocked by a string of explosions, seven in all, since Sunday killing three people and wounding 25.
Police have blamed all the explosions on the ULFA.
Rebels in insurgency-hit Assam, the largest among the seven northeastern states, have for years been boycotting the Independence Day and Republic Day celebrations to protest the central government's rule over the vast region rich in oil, tea and timber.
The run-up to the national days has always been violent, with ULFA rebels striking vital installations including crude oil pipelines, trains and road and rail bridges, besides targeting soldiers.
The ULFA is fighting for an independent homeland since 1979. More than 30 rebel armies operate in the northeastern states, their demands ranging from secession to greater autonomy and the right to self-determination.