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Blast kills five in Jalpaiguri, finger at KLO

One of the blast victims at Jalpaiguri district hospital.
Picture by Biplab Basak

Siliguri, Dec. 26: Five persons were killed and several others were injured when a bomb kept on a bicycle went off on a road connecting Jalpaiguri town with NH31 this evening.

Police said they suspected the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), which observes its Martyrs’ Day today.

S.K. Pujari, the inspector-general of police (north Bengal), told journalists: “Preliminary investigations suggest that four-five persons have died in the blast and dozens have been injured. Our officers are on the spot. We are suspecting the involvement of the KLO.”

The injured have been admitted to Jalpaiguri district hospital, around 2km from the culvert where the blast happened around 7.30pm. Two of them were taken to North Bengal Medical College Hospital as their condition deteriorated.

The police said those who had died were residents of nearby areas. They have been identified as Lalmohan Debnath, Rashidul Islam, Ainul Hussain, Pappu Rehman and Ranjan Roy.

North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb, who is in Calcutta today for the cabinet reshuffle, said he would visit Jalpaiguri tomorrow.

Asked if the KLO was under the scanner because the outfit was observing its Martyrs’ Day today, Jalpaiguri poli

ce chief Amit P. Javalgi said: “The outfit could be trying to make its presence felt by carrying out the blast.”

KLO celebrates its Foundation Day on December 28.

The area where the blast took place today is near the district collectorate. The road, which leads to NH31, is a busy one, used by vehicles heading for Jalpaiguri from the Dooars and Cooch Behar.

The police said they were exploring all angles.

“There are chances that somebody was carrying the bomb or the improvised explosive device on his bicycle when it went off accidentally. We are also not ruling out that the IED could have been put on the bicycle and then kept on the spot,” a police officer said.

Minister Deb today said in Calcutta: “I had a talk with the chief minister on the blast. I will return tomorrow and then visit Jalpaiguri. The Trinamul government will stand by the affected families and will bear all costs of treatment.”

The minister added that the state “condemned” the blast and warned that “strict” action would be taken against those who wished to create trouble in the region.

Police officers in Jalpaiguri said an alert had been issued across the district. The police have set up check points at various places of Jalpaiguri and said they were conducting raids in nearby villages and hotels.

Sources said this was the first blast in the town in recent memory.

In November 2006, seven persons were killed when a similar IED planted by the KLO had burst inside a compartment of the Haldibari-NJP passenger train at Belakoba station, around 20km from Jalpaiguri.

Formed on December 28 1995, the KLO have been demanding a Kamtapur state comprising all six districts of north Bengal and four contiguous districts of Assam — Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Dhubri and Goalpara.

The outfit carried out extortion, abduction and killings till 2003, when the government of Bhutan, where the KLO had set up camps, initiated the Royal Bhutan Flushout.