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.

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Suicide blast kills 30 at Pakistan Shiite funeral

20 02 2009

Source: AFP
54 minutes ago
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) — A suicide bomber attacked a funeral procession for an assassinated local Shiite Muslim leader in northwest Pakistan on Friday, killing 30 people and putting furious mobs on the rampage.
The explosion took place near a Shiite mosque in Dera Ismail Khan, a town on the edge of Pakistan’s restive tribal areas with a history of sectarian violence, which has been on the rise in the Sunni-majority country.
“Thirty people have died and 65 are injured,” Saadullah Khan, a police official in the town, told AFP by telephone.
Hospital and police officials earlier put the death toll at 20, with dozens of others wounded. Police said the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber.
Soldiers were ordered to deploy and a curfew enforced after intense volleys of gunfire from panicked mourners at the funeral for the late Sher Zaman degenerated into angry riots.
The attack came two weeks after 35 people died in a suspected suicide bombing against Shiite worshippers in the Punjab town of Dera Ghazi Khan on February 5 in one of the country’s deadliest sectarian attacks.
Around 90 people have been killed in suicide and bomb attacks across Pakistan so far this year and more than 1,600 since government forces besieged militants holed up in a radical mosque in Islamabad in July 2007.
Much of the violence has been concentrated in northwest Pakistan, where the army has been bogged down fighting Taliban hardliners and Al-Qaeda extremists, who fled there after the 2001 US-led invasion of neighbouring Afghanistan.
In Dera Ismail Khan, mobs pumped bullets into the air, pelted stones at cars, ransacked shops, torched buses and set up road blocks with burning tyres in the dusty, low-rise town, residents told AFP by telephone from the town.
“A curfew has been imposed in the city,” district administration chief Syed Mohsin Shah told AFP.
“The military has been called in to support police for restoration of law and order,” he said.
Zaman, the local Shiite activist who was being buried on Friday, was shot dead by unknown gunmen riding on the back of a motorbike in a busy Dera Ismail Khan market on Thursday, a local police official said.
He had been a prominent member of the town’s Shiite community and organised community gatherings, police said.
Previously, an explosion ripped through a Sunni Muslim mosque on February 3, killing one person and wounding 18 others in Dera Ismail KHan.
Shiites account for about 20 percent of Pakistan’s 160-million-strong population.
The fellow Muslims usually coexist peacefully but sectarian violence has killed more than 4,000 people across Pakistan since the late 1980s.