Army personnel continued to patrol villages in Assam’s violence-hit Sonitpur district after tribal separatists killed 12 villagers, officials said on Tuesday.

“Heavy deployment of army personnel backed by police and paramilitary commandos has helped in easing the situation to a great extent,” Assam government spokesperson and State Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told IANS.

Militants of the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) late on Sunday attacked Bhimajuli village in Sonitpur, nearly 250 km north of Guwahati, and massacred 12 locals.

On Monday, angry villagers vandalised a police post and attacked Assam Police Chief Shankar Baruah’s convoy while he was on his way to the village.

Police had to open blank fire to disperse the crowd and in the process two people were injured.

“Army soldiers are conducting flag marches in the area to instil a sense of confidence and security,” Mr. Sarma said.

Meanwhile, villagers armed with bows and arrows, machetes and spears, were guarding the area to foil any fresh attacks by the rebels.

The NDFB rebels apparently attacked the villagers after they refused to pay extortion money.

A sense of fear and panic still grips the area, although there are no reports of any fresh attacks or backlash by locals.

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