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Prime Minister condemns Assam massacres

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says this act is an "anti-people act of cowardice".

india Updated: Jan 06, 2007 18:00 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday denounced the massacre of 42 Hindi-speaking people in Assam as an "anti-people act of cowardice".

The prime minister's remarks came as a high-level central government team led by Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaisawal prepared to leave on Sunday for Assam where two days of terror attacks have shocked the authorities and people.

Home Minister Shivraj Patil has called an emergency meeting in New Delhi on Saturday to discuss the spate of killings blamed on the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and condemned the killing spree.

Patil said the killings were an attempt to disturb Assam's communal harmony.

"The government is always willing to talk to any group in an effort to find a peaceful solution to problems but killing of innocent people will not be tolerated," he said.

Expressing the government's commitment to deal with terrorism firmly, he sought the cooperation of the Assamese people.

A total of 42 people have been killed in 10 separate but well-coordinated incidents in the two eastern districts of Dibrugarh and Tinsukia since Friday night.

It was the worst massacre of its kind in Assam where ULFA mowed down at least 100 people in 2000.

Police said the latest violence was an attempt to create an atmosphere of fear after an independent opinion poll by a peace group in nine districts of the oil- rich state showed that 90 per cent of people rejected ULFA's separatist demands.

The three districts that witnessed the attacks had not been polled but were to be included in the second phase of assessment by the civil rights group, Assam Public Works.

The bloody attacks came a day after officials appealed to ULFA not to disrupt next month's National Games, which the rebels have threatened to disrupt with violence.