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First day, first show: Blasts rock Imphal

Imphal, Jan. 1: Wishes by chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh and a host of other leaders for peace in the new year notwithstanding, two early morning bomb blasts here today heralded continuation of troubled times in Manipur.

The explosion of two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) within a span of 12 minutes did not cause any injury or damage. But the incidents were signs that militancy might continue to hold centrestage in the state this year too.

Police said the first blast took place near the bank of the Imphal river at Singjamei Sapam Leikai under Singjamei police station in Imphal West district at 5.49am. Twelve minutes later, another IED exploded near the bank of the Nambul near Manipur College at Pishumthong, also under Singjamei police station. Both the IEDs were planted on roads along the river bank.

“No one was injured as people were still in bed after New Year celebrations till the early hours,” a senior police officer said.

S. Raju Singh, a resident of Singjamei, said, “We were sleeping when a loud sound woke us up. At first we thought early risers were exploding crackers to welcome the new year. But later we learnt that it was a bomb.”

Residents of the city welcomed the new year with music concerts and crackers. The gaiety continued through the night and lasted till the early hours today.

The police said the bombs were powerful and triggered by militants using remote control devices to demonstrate their presence. No militant group has claimed responsibility for the explosions yet.

“The timing and explosion sites suggest that the militants wanted to demonstrate their capabilities,” another resident of Singjamei said.

Deputy chief minister Gaikhangam, who is also the home minister, in his New Year’s Day message expressed happiness that the law and order situation had considerably improved in the state.

In his message yesterday, Ibobi Singh had appealed to the people to dedicate themselves to building a peaceful, harmonious and prosperous Manipur.

Governor Binod Kumar Duggal, soon after his swearing-in yesterday, had wished the people of Manipur a peaceful new year.

Barring the two blasts, the first day of the year remained peaceful in the state. People celebrated the day by staying at home or going to picnics, most shops and business establishments remained closed here.

Blow-by-blow

Sept.13, 2013: 9 killed in blast at Nagamapal
Oct. 30: Two persons killed, six hurt in blast at Moirangkhom
Nov. 7: Labourer killed after twin blasts at Pallel in Thoubal district
Nov. 25: A jawan and a civilian hurt in blast at Keishampat near Raj Bhavan