One killed in blast in India’s restive Assam state

5 04 2009

Tue, 31 Mar 2009 13:42:09 GMT
New Delhi – One person was killed and 15 injured Tuesday in a bomb blast carried out by suspected separatist militants in India’s north-eastern state of Assam, news reports said. The blast occurred in a busy market in the Jyotikuchi area of the state capital, Guwahati, when foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee was addressing reporters 3 kilometres away, the IANS news agency reported.

Police officials told the IANS that the bomb was planted on a motorcycle and went off in an area full of evening shoppers and vendors. The explosion took place minutes after Mukherjee, a senior leader of the Congress party, expressed fears about terrorist strikes during monthlong, five-phase staggered general elections that are to begin April 16. “We fear terrorist attacks, but having said that, we are ready to counter such threats,” he told reporters. Police in the troubled Indian state usually blame the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) for bomb blasts and grenade attacks.

The ULFA, Assam’s biggest separatist outfit, has been fighting for an independent homeland since 1979. India’s north-east, which shares borders with China, Myanmar and Bangladesh, is a volatile region where nearly 40 separatist, tribal or leftist groups are active in five states. More than 15,000 people have lost their lives to insurgency in the region in the past decade.