In a virtual rerun of its pogrom against Hindi-speaking people in 2003, suspected militants of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) killed 16 people, mostly Hindi-speaking labourers, in raids across two eastern Assam districts on Friday evening.
The attacks occurred barely 24 hours after Union Home Secretary VK Duggal called Assam a safe state and pointed out to the ULFA that violence and peace did not go together.
Seven persons were confirmed dead in two cases of indiscriminate firing in Dibrugarh district, when reports last came in, while at least nine died in three similar attacks, and a fourth bomb blast took place in adjoining Tinsukia district.
Over 40 persons were injured, many of them critically.
"From the information gathered, Hindi-speaking people were the primary targets of the miscreants, whom we suspect to be ULFA activists," said Inspector-General of Police (Law and Order) DK Pathak.
The first incident was in a remote brick kiln in Dibrugarh district. Militants opened fire on labourers, killing three.
Four were killed at another brick kiln. In Tinsukia district, the militants first struck in a vegetable market, killing six people.