New Delhi: Three blasts in Assam killed seven people and wounded 62 on the eve of a visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, officials and television channels said.
The first explosion in a market in Guwahati, the state’s largest city, caused all the fatalities and injured 56, director general of police G.M. Srivastava said by phone. A second blast about 2 hours later in the northern town of Dhekiajuli injured four.
The third explosion in Dhubri district was caused by a grenade and injured two, the Times Now television channel reported, without saying where it got the information from.
Hampering growth? Security personnel inspect damaged vehicles at the site of one blast in the Maligaon area in Guwahati. Anupam Nath / AP
The explosions came a day before leading rebel group United Liberation Front of Asom, or Ulfa, marks the anniversary of its founding—it often stages attacks around this.
Assam, which shares a border with Bhutan and Bangladesh, is home to several groups fighting for independence or autonomy, including Ulfa. The groups say local people have not benefited from Assam’s resources, especially the state’s large tea estates and oil fields.
The Guwahati bomb was fixed to a motorcycle and exploded at about 1.45 pm local time on Monday, Subhash Das, principal secretary in the state home ministry, said on phone.
The second bomb is thought to have been attached to a cycle, Srivastava said. Das said that while the evidence pointed towards Ulfa involvement, officials were yet to confirm the group’s role.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is scheduled to visit Assam on Tuesday to campaign for his ruling Congress party ahead of the general election beginning 16 April.
Insurgents in the state were being aided by groups in Myanmar and Bangladesh, Assam’s chief minister Tarun Gogoi said, describing the killings as senseless. “Unless we fight this effectively, there will be no economic development in the state”, Gogoi told the Times Now television channel.
Television pictures showed charred vehicles, burning cars and plumes of smoke billowing from the site of the first blast.