Violence aimed at Hindi-speaking migrants in Assam continued on Saturday as suspected militants of separatist outfit United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) gunned down at least 27 people in strikes at four places in Tinsukia and Dhemaji districts.
The official death toll since Friday night reached 48, but unconfirmed reports put the figure at 55.
Several people were injured in the coordinated attacks. The majority of the victims were migrants from Bihar — milkmen and brick kiln workers. All the attacks were carried out in areas with sizeable migrant population.
The worst affected district so far has been Tinsukia — 34 people killed in six incidents. Curfew was clamped in the district to prevent further violence.
Early on Saturday, suspected ULFA militants indiscriminately fired on Hindi-speaking people at Sadiya, a remote village in Tinsukia. Thirteen were killed and about a dozen injured.
Around 8 am, two motorcycle-borne militants opened fire on a group of migrants in Philobari under Doomdooma police station in the district, killing four on the spot.
In Dhemaji district, militants fired on villagers at Pukhuri Chapori under Jonai police station, killing six.
Although the ULFA — or any other militant outfit — has not claimed responsibility for the attacks, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said: "There is no doubt that it (violence) is the handiwork of the ULFA."
Gogoi said that red alert has been sounded across Assam, adding: "I have instructed that all strong and effective steps be taken to maintain peace, law and order in the state."
Meanwhile, the Centre has asked Bihar and West Bengal to stay on alert to prevent any retaliatory attack on people from Assam.
(With PTI inputs)