Assam bomb blasts
Anupam Nath/AP
People carry a seriously wounded man near a blast site in Gauhati, India, Thursday, Oct.
30, 2008.

Several Bomb Blasts in India Kill at Least 60, Injure Hundreds

October 30, 2008 12:50 PM
by Anne Szustek
Local officials blamed separatist group United Liberation Front of Asom for a series of 13 lunchtime blasts in India’s northeastern province of Assam. The group has denied involvement.
Cars and auto-rickshaws loaded with high-intensity explosives were detonated in outdoor food markets in a series of coordinated blasts in the northeastern state of Assam between 11 a.m. and noon local time. The largest of the blasts occurred near the office of Assam’s top government official, reports the Associated Press.

The blasts left corpses, motorcycles and cars scattered across the road. Police officers draped white sheets over the bodies of those killed in the attacks, while passersby moved injured victims into cars so that they could be taken for treatment. At least 300 people were injured, according to reports.

Himanta Biswa Sharma, a spokesperson for the Assamese government, told the AP, “The needle of suspicion is on ULFA,” or the United Liberation Front of Asom, the region’s largest separatist group.

Anjan Borehaur, a spokesperson for the separatist organization denied the ULFA’s involvement in the attacks in an e-mail to journalists. The group has not carried out an attack of this magnitude before, causing some government officials to suggest that the UFLA may have worked in concert with other separatist groups to coordinate the attack.

“Going by the nature, planning and magnitude of the blasts we need to find out if ULFA has been assisted by other terror groups … at home or abroad,” Assamese Home Ministry official Subhash Das was quoted as saying by the AP.

Voice of America reported, however, that the ULFA may have been “seriously weakened after recent counter-insurgency operations by India’s military.”

The state of Assam, connected to the rest of India by a relatively thin strip of land and wedged among Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar (also known as Burma) and China, has been roiled by separatist violence. Some groups operating in the region blame the country’s central government in New Delhi for allegedly exploiting the area’s natural resources without giving back to the local community. Many Assamese share ethnic ties with China and Myanmar.

Some 10,000 have been killed in separatist strife in northeastern India since 1947.

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