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Homeland Security

Separatists in Northeast India Blamed for Another Deadly Market Bombing

26 May 2007

The latest in a string of violent attacks blamed on separatists in the northeastern Indian state of Assam has left seven people dead and injured about 30 others. VOA's Steve Herman reports from New Delhi that the latest bombing triggered a public demonstration against the violence.

A crowded market in the Assamese capital of Guwahati was the latest target of a bombing blamed on separatists. Witnesses say the powerful blast occurred in a commercial and residential district of the city, scattering human remains over a busy road.

Police say rebels placed a bomb in a three-wheeled auto rickshaw that was parked near a maternity hospital. The rickshaw driver was among the fatalities.

Some survivors said they were lucky to be alive.

This witness says he would have died if he had not been shielded behind a gate.

The police assistant deputy inspector general for Assam, D.B. Kakoti, told reporters at the scene he is certain the bomb was set by the United Liberation Front of Assam, known as ULFA.

"ULFA is absolutely behind this," he said. "There's no denying the fact that they are behind the blast."

Following the bombing, angry residents staged a demonstration in a nearby market, expressing their outrage over repeated bombings and demanding that area shops close in protest. They also criticized authorities for poor security in the area, which has been hit by a recent wave of fatal bomb attacks.

The United News of India reports that ULFA commander Jiten Dutta telephoned area newspapers threatening more bombs in Guwahati within the next several days.

Analysts say the violence appears timed to disrupt a big Sunday celebration in Assam by the Congress Party, which holds power in the restive state.

ULFA is one of several rebel groups in Assam fighting for independence. It is blamed for 20 bombings during the past two months.

A six-year truce between ULFA and the Indian government fell apart last September, triggering a new round of violence.

Separatists claim that India's federal government treats the ethnically distinct Assamese poorly while exploiting the area's rich natural resources.

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