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Serial blasts rip Assam heart

Aug. 26: A rampaging Ulfa triggered a string of blasts across Assam since last night, killing at least five and sending a clueless Dispur ducking for cover.

Two security personnel and the daughter of an officer were killed when the Ulfa targeted a bus carrying BSF personnel and their families to Guwahati from Tura in Meghalaya. The bomb had been planted on the Tura-Paikan road, about 25 km north of Goalpara town. The incident occurred at 11.35 am.

The victims were identified as sub-inspector M.R. Khan, havildar R.P. Yadav and seven-year-old Nandini Kumari. Six persons were injured in the incident.

A few hours before the Goalpara incident, a blast ripped through an empty bus in Gossaigaon subdivision of Kokrajhar district, killing a bystander and injuring 46.

The conductor of the bus had detected the bomb and asked the passengers to disembark. It exploded 20 minutes later. The incident occurred at 7.35 am. The police allegedly did not act quickly to prevent the incident, though a police station is located barely 100 metres from the spot where the bus was stationed.

“We informed the police that a suspected bomb had been detected, but they did not respond promptly,” D. Brahma, a witness to the blast, said.

The victim was identified as Ranjit Singha, a resident of Gossaigaon town. As many as 35 of the injured were admitted to various hospitals in Alipurduar and Cooch Behar in neighbouring West Bengal.

Suspected Ulfa militants triggered three more blasts during the day, two of these in the Noonmati locality of Guwahati.

The back-to-back explosions in Noonmati made a mockery of the security arrangements in the area, which has an IOC refinery. At least 10 people, including security personnel and three journalists, were injured in the second blast. A GRPF deputy superintendent, S.K. Dey, was injured, too.

The twin blasts damaged a rail track 200 metres from the refinery. The rebels used a timer to trigger the explosions. The police said the first blast, which occurred around 8.20 pm, was possibly a trap. As security personnel and journalists inspected the damage, a second explosion occurred at 9.15 pm.

Earlier in the evening, Ulfa militants carried out a grenade attack at a marketplace in Tangla town of Darrang district, injuring seven people.

The sequence of Ulfa strikes across Assam began last night with an explosion in front of a cinema hall in Dibrugarh district. One of the nine people injured in that incident died in hospital today. The victim was identified as Tuntun Rai, 32.

Another bomb exploded on a rail track between Chautara and Fakiragram stations of Kokrajhar district around the same time.

The Ulfa later targeted a powerhouse at Chapakhowa in Sadiya subdivision of Tinsukia district. The blast, which occurred around 1 am, did not cause any damage.

Minister of state for home Rockybul Hussain, who visited Gossaigaon and Alipurduar to meet those injured in the bus blast, announced ex-gratia of Rs 3 lakh to the families of the victims and free treatment to the injured.

The All Bodo Students Union called a 12-hour Kokrajhar district bandh tomorrow.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi said it was a shame that the Ulfa was waging war against the people of Assam.

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