The bus in which the bomb went off in Barobisha on Sunday. Picture by Anirban Choudhury
Barobisha, Aug. 18: A bomb exploded in a bus parked near the Bengal-Assam border this afternoon, injuring eight persons, five of them passengers who were standing in front of a hotel.
Akash Magharia, the additional superintendent of police, Alipurduar, disclosed that a letter found at the blast site said an outfit called the National Liberation Force of Bengalis, based in Lower Assam, was behind the explosion.
Right now, the police have little information about the outfit. The police initially suspected the KLO.
The blast, triggered by a timer device, occurred when the bus carrying 25 passengers stopped in front of the hotel for lunch at 12.30pm.
The vehicle was on its way from Gelefu to Phuentsholing, both in Bhutan, via Bengal and Assam.
No one was on the bus when the bomb went off.
Five of the passengers who were standing in front of the hotel were injured. Apart from the five travellers, hotel owner, Gobinda Kundu, 35, hawker Jaharlal Majumder, and local resident Nanda Barman, 17, were wounded.
The injured passengers are Tshering Lama, 35, Chutur Mardi, 50, her daughter, Munni Mardi, 14, Bhut Hazda, 50, and Subin Murmu, 45.
Police took the injured to the Kumargram block hospital, where four are undergoing treatment.
The others were released after preliminary treatment.
Sources said the four admitted to the hospital were out of danger.
Barobisha is 34km from Alipurduar and 4km from the border with Assam. The upper part of the bus was damaged in the blast.
Police sources said had the blast occurred when the bus was on the move, there might have been deaths.
The injured hawker, Majumder, said: “I was showing plastic flowers to the passengers in front of the hotel when the blast happened. I saw a huge plume of smoke and Gobinda, who was standing beside me, fell to the ground. The passengers inside the hotel started shouting and ran out of the hotel. Gobinda had to undergo a surgery as splinters were lodged in his arms.”
Asked about the explosion, ASP Magharia said: “We have sealed the hotel and passengers and the staff of the bus were taken to Barobisha police outpost. We are bringing a sniffer dog as well as a bomb disposal squad from the nearest BSF camp.”
The ASP said seven passengers had been detained for questioning.
Magharia told Metro: “In the note, the National Liberation Force of Bengalis has owned responsibility for the explosion.”
Police sources said the outfit was based in lower Assam, where it was operating for the protection of Bengalis from alleged attacks by Bodo groups.
Biswajit Ghosh, who runs a jewellery shop near the hotel, said: “Hearing a loud sound, I rushed out of my shop, but I could see only smoke. There has been a blast here after six years. We will request police to check the buses plying between Bengal and Assam.”
Five explosions had rocked Barobisha and the surrounding areas between October 2006 and July 2007.
On October 15, 2006, there were twin blasts at Barobisha market during busy hours and one trader was seriously injured. In December that year, another bomb went off at the Barobisha Motor Vehicles Office and on February 5, 2007, a huge blast took place at Kamakhyaguri railway station and the Guwahati-bound Kamrup Express had a narrow escape.
Two bombs went off in quick succession in a car at Barobisha and a lorry on the Assam border on February 22. Four persons died in the lorry blast.