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10 killed in first state train blast

Belakoba, Nov. 20: The first ever train blast in Bengal killed at least 10 passengers today at a station near Siliguri.

Suspected KLO rebels set off a timer device in a general compartment of the New Jalpaiguri-Haldibari Passenger at 6.19 pm, minutes before the train was to leave Belakoba station for NJP.

“We heard a boom and rushed to the platform,” said Uday Sarkar, who has a shop near the station, 28 km from Siliguri. “Smoke billowed from a mangled coach. Bodies lay around; so did the injured, many of them unconscious and bleeding.”

“At least seven women and 15 children were severely injured,” added Debasis Moitra.

Four more bombs were found in the train, two of whose sleeper coaches were to have been attached to the Sealdah-bound Darjeeling Mail.

Three of the dead have been identified as Gopal Das from College Para, Jalpai-guri; Bhupen Saiba from Haldibari and Nitai Saha from Ghughumali, Siliguri.

Local people and unhurt passengers ferried the injured and the dead to Jalpaiguri Sadar Hospital and the local Makradangi hospital.

Jalpaiguri police chief Tripurari would not rule out KLO involvement. Intelligence sources said the bomb was probably planted at Haldibari, a KLO hotbed.

The CPM has announced Tuesday and Wednesday as protest days across the state. Police stations have been alerted across the region.

In 1999, NJP station had witnessed a platform blast.

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