The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ulfa bomb ‘gift’ rips Assam clinic

Jorhat, May 10: After car, motorbike and cycle bombs, Assam today got a taste of terror gift-wrapped and delivered by a woman.

A plastic bag containing three packets of potato chips and a gift box exploded near the reception counter of a diagnostic clinic in the heart of Sivasagar town, minutes after the woman who was seen carrying it slipped out unnoticed. Five persons were wounded in the explosion.

Sanjivani Diagnostics Centre, where the explosion occurred at 1.20 pm, is in the busy Amolapatty locality of the town.

Police said a woman in her mid-twenties came to the pharmacy attached to the clinic around 1 pm and asked for medicines to combat a headache. Sujit Bahati, son of clinic owner Rama Bahati, told The Telegraph over phone that there was no reason to suspect that the “innocent-looking girl” had a sinister plan.

Sujit said he had gone to the laboratory to get his blood pressure checked when the explosion occurred. “I had been feeling uneasy and left the pharmacy moments before the bomb exploded. None of our employees suspected that the carrybag the woman had left at the counter contained a bomb. One of them kept the bag on the floor, thinking the woman would come back for it soon,” he said.

Two employees manning the pharmacy, Dipak Rajbongshi and Palash Chetia, were among those wounded in the blast. The other three — Sanjoy Kumar Deka, Tulumoni Gogoi and Dolon Gogoi — were customers. All five were admitted to Sivasagar Civil Hospital. Doctors said they were out of danger.

The banned Ulfa had sent an SMS to the owner of Sanjivani Diagnostics Centre about a month ago, demanding a huge amount of money. The message sender identified himself as Ram Singh, a “sergeant major” in Ulfa’s 28th Battalion.

The police confirmed that several other businessmen of Sivasagar town received similar text messages from Ulfa. The owner of Supreme Glass India, a shop located near Sanjivani Diagnostics Centre, was threatened with dire consequences if he did not pay up.

Deputy commissioner K.K. Dwivedi urged residents of the town to be extra cautious, “now that Ulfa has shown that it can stoop so low as to plant a bomb in a diagnostic clinic”.

As many as 17 improvised explosive devices (IEDs), Ulfa’s preferred terror weapon, have been found planted at different places in Sivasagar in the past six months alone. Last night, the army detected a powerful bomb at Kali Mandir in Simaluguri town of Sivasagar district. A bomb squad was requisitioned from the army’s Dinjan base and the IED defused this morning.

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