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Two killed, eight hurt in Assam blasts

ULFA has called a 12-hour general strike Aug 15 to boycott I-Day.

india Updated: Aug 07, 2006 16:49 IST

Two people were killed and eight paramilitary troopers injured as ultras set off explosions in Assam ahead of Independence Day, officials said on Monday.

Two ultras of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) were killed late on Sunday when an improvised explosive device, which they were carrying, exploded just outside the gate of the army's Four Corps headquarters in Tezpur, about 180 kms north of Assam's main city of Guwahati.

"The two were on a bicycle carrying the bomb. Something must have gone wrong and it exploded, killing both of them," the intelligence chief told.

Troops have intensified patrol in the area with Indian Army chief General JJ Singh scheduled to arrive at the Four Corps headquarters at Tezpur later on Monday.

In another incident, suspected ULFA rebels tossed a grenade at a paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy near Charaideo village in eastern Assam's Sivasagar district, wounding eight personnel.

"Three CRPF soldiers are in a serious condition," a police official said on phone from Sivasagar.

Rebels also shot at and critically wounded a shop owner in Sivasagar district late on Sunday. "Probably the businessman was attacked by ULFA rebels as he refused to pay extortion money," the official said.

A CRPF convoy narrowly missed a grenade hurled by suspected ULFA ultras in the eastern Dibrugarh district. "The grenade exploded metres away from the convoy. There would have been casualties had the grenade hit the convoy," the police official said.

Since Friday, there have been six explosions, killing four people and wounding 25.

A soldier wounded in a grenade explosion over the weekend died on Monday at a hospital, Assam Police Intelligence Chief Khagen Sharma said.

"All the attacks since Friday were carried out by the ULFA to demonstrate their strength and make their presence felt ahead of Aug 15," the intelligence chief said.

ULFA, which is fighting for an independent Assamese homeland since 1979, has called a 12-hour general strike on Aug 15 to boycott the Independence Day celebrations.

Ultras in the insurgency-hit northeast have for years been boycotting Independence Day and Republic Day celebrations to protest New Delhi's rule over the vast region rich in oil, tea and timber. The run-up to the events has always been violent, with rebels striking vital installations including crude oil pipelines, trains, roads and rail bridges, besides targeting federal soldiers.

In 2004, ULFA triggered a powerful landmine at an Independence Day function in Assam's Dhemaji town killing 13 people, including six schoolchildren.

More than 30 rebel armies operate in the northeastern states, their demands ranging from secession to greater autonomy and the right to self-determination.

Over 50,000 people have lost their lives to insurgency in the northeast since 1947.

First Published: Aug 07, 2006 12:40 IST