The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gogoi lament amid blast cacophony

Guwahati, Dec. 15: At least nine persons were injured in a grenade explosion at Silapathar in Assam's Dhemaji district this evening, barely a few hours after chief minister Tarun Gogoi admitted to 'lapses' on the part of the government in providing security to the people.

The blast occurred at 6.10 pm when an Ulfa militant hurled a grenade at a police team engaged in frisking people and vehicles at Kalibari Tinali, one km from Silapathar police station, Dhemaji deputy commissioner Dilip Baruah said.

The militant, who was in one of the buses being checked, fled.

Assam police sub-inspector Prasanna Kumar Sonowal was among those injured.

Two more blasts occurred in Tinsukia and Nalbari districts. No was injured.

In Tinsukia, suspected Ulfa militants lobbed a grenade at a patrol team of the CRPF at Sadiya Bazar around 7.30 pm.

In Nalbari, a bomb was thrown at the Barama police station at 6 pm. However, it did not explode and was later defused by army personnel.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi said the Ulfa hitting at soft targets was an 'act of desperation' because of dwindling public support, but admitted in the same breath that the government had failed to keep the outfit in check.

'Yes, as the chief minister I have failed to provide security to the people... there have been lapses on our part,' Gogoi said during a special Assembly discussion on law and order.

Speaker Prithibi Majhi, who turned down an adjournment motion moved by the Opposition AGP, allowed the special discussion in view of the 'alarming situation' in the state. The Assembly later unanimously resolved to seek a political solution to the problem of militancy in Assam.

Gogoi's statement came after Opposition members pointed out that the systematic manner in which militants struck last night indicated 'serious security lapses'.

The chief minister, who holds the home portfolio, said there was a 'lot of scope for improvement' on the security front, but also stressed on the need for more security forces to deal with militants.

He claimed that the government had intelligence inputs on possible acts of subversion by the militants, but added that 'we did not have specific reports on where the Ulfa will strike'.

Gogoi also expressed doubts about the Ulfa's sincerity in sitting for talks.

Ulfa commander-in-chief Paresh Barua accused Assam police of masterminding yesterday's blasts in Nagaon and Morigaon. He was, however, silent on the other incidents.

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