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Bombs found, trains halted

Dec. 30: Trains to and from north Bengal were held up at different stations for around seven hours after four crude bombs were spotted on tracks between Mukuria Junction and Azamnagar Road stations in Bihar’s Katihar this morning.

Two of the bombs, believed to be of low intensity, exploded when railway security personnel tried to remove them, the other explosives were defused by a bomb squad. Nobody was injured.

The detection of the bombs delayed 11 passenger trains, among them the Kanchankanya Express, Kolkata-Radhikapur Express, Darjeeling Mail, Padatik Express, Shatabdi Express, Avadh Assam Express and Kanchenjungha Express.

The New Jalpaiguri-bound Kanchankanya Express that was about to enter Azamnagar Road station was halted at 6am when two railway patrolmen alerted the station about the bombs. The stations are 10-15km from the Bengal border. The towns of Raiganj and Dalkhola in North Dinajpur are about 60km from Azamnagar Road and Mukuria stations,

“Two bombs were found around 300m from Azamnagar Road station towards Mukuria, close to a railway bridge over a stream. They were spotted around 6am by patrolmen, Jeevan Singh and Mahesh Sah. They tried to prod the two bombs away from the tracks with a bamboo pole and they exploded. The duo didn’t suffer injuries,” Sugato Lahiri, the chief public relations’ officer of Northeast Frontier Railway, said over the phone from Maligaon in Assam.

The patrolmen soon saw two more bombs, 20m from the spot where the first two explosives had been found. “The railway control was informed and we immediately stopped train services,” Lahiri said.

Railway officials and RPF personnel rushed to the site and cordoned off the area. The bomb squad reached the spot in a train from Katihar around noon and defused the two devices. They also collected samples for tests. “A goods train ran on the tracks on a trial basis and traffic resumed at 1pm,” said a railway official.

Anuj Sharma, the Katihar divisional railway manager, said: “The bombs appeared to be of low intensity. But we didn’t want to take risk and halted trains in the section. We cannot say who had kept the bombs and what their intentions were.”

Adhir Chowdhury, the minister of state for railways, said: “We have learnt that KLO was involved in the blast in Jalpaiguri and also fired at a bus in Malda. The outfit has a base in some parts of North Dinajpur, which is close to the area where the bombs were found today. The railways will co-operate with the Bihar and Bengal governments to prevent any sabotage.”

Bomb scare

A bag containing a tiffin box was found near Chulsa station in Jalpaiguri on Monday evening. A bomb squad examined the bag and nothing suspicious was found.