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One killed, 19 injured in Assam blasts

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DISASTER AVERTED: Bomb squad personnel try to dispose a bomb planted by suspected militants of the United Liberation Front of Asom in Guwahati on Saturday.
DISASTER AVERTED: Bomb squad personnel try to dispose a bomb planted by suspected militants of the United Liberation Front of Asom in Guwahati on Saturday.

Sushanta Talukdar

ULFA denies its hand in the six blasts in which civilians were injured

GUWAHATI: Suspected militants of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) triggered two more blasts in the city on Saturday night. One person was killed and 19 others, including two security personnel, were injured. Four blasts occurred on Friday night in which three were injured.

Inspector-General of Police (Special Branch) Khagen Sharma told The Hindu that suspected ULFA militants lobbed a grenade at an RPF post at Bamunimaidam area around 7 p.m. on Saturday in which two jawans were injured. Another blast occurred under the Ganeshguri flyover close to the Dispur capital complex around 7:45 p.m. One person was killed. Seventeen were injured.

In the morning, the police recovered a bomb kept concealed in a tiffin box device and fitted with a timer device in front of the office of the Kamrup Superintndent of Police near the Don Bosco School.

Bomb recovered

Superintendent of Police Nitul Gogoi said the bomb was recovered around 8:40 a.m. The timer device had been sent to experts to ascertain when it was exactly set to go off. "The timer device showed 6:17. But we are yet to know whether it was synchronised with another timing. Hence, we are not in a position to comment whether it was targeted on the school children."

Additional Superintendent of Police Rajen Singh said the tiffin box was covered with newspapers. "The bomb was recovered probably in less than ten minutes after it was planted, asthe newspapers covering the tiffin box were not wet. It was raining heavily since morning till around 8:30."

The ULFA denied its hand in the six blasts in which civilians were injured, but owned up three blasts on the oil and gas pipelines at Naharkatia, Digboi and Chabua.

In a statement, ULFA chief Paresh Barua said the blasts in Guwahati, Dhubri, Mangaldoi, Haibargaon, Golokganj and Doomdooma were "masterminded by Inspector-General of Police (Special Branch) Khagen Sharma and the forces opposed to peace talks between the Centre and the outfit."

Mr. Barua said the attacks on the pipelines were carried out in protest against the tightening of security around oil installations, which was to "facilitate the plundering of Assam's natural resources."

Train services suspended

Chief Public Relations Officer, N.F. Railways, Trikalyga Rabha said train services between Naharkatia and Tinsukia were suspended from 10:40 p.m. till 12:40 p.m. as the oil pipeline near the railway track at Nahakatia caught fire due to the blast.

Mr. Sharma said the ULFA statement was not surprising, as the outfit had in the past denied its hand in similar blasts at Dhemaji, Boko, Mathurapur and other places where civilians were killed and injured. However, it could be established that all these blasts were the handiwork of the ULFA.

The Assam Government announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 3 lakh to the next of kin of each of the deceased and Rs. 10,000 to each of the injured.

In a statement from Rome on Friday, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who is leading a delegation ona three-nation tour, described the blasts as "senseless acts" that would affect the atmosphere of peace and progress in the State. "Violence and terrorism have no place in a democratic country like ours. The police and administration should spare no effort to apprehend those responsible for such incidents."

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