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Bodo rebels kill 20 in ‘retaliatory’ attacks

May 2: Suspected Bodo militants have killed at least 20 people in Assam since yesterday, saying the attacks were prompted by an alleged fake encounter.

The NDFB (Songbijit), the most lethal outfit in Assam since last year, is being blamed for the violence in the Baksa and Kokrajhar districts in Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) in Assam.

The army was called out today after 10 persons were killed and five injured in three separate attacks in the two districts last night. The militants struck again tonight, killing at least 10 persons and injuring seven.

Indefinite curfew has been clamped in three of the four districts of the BTAD — Kokrajhar, Baksa and Chirang. In Chirang, it has been clamped as a precautionary measure. Curfew has also been clamped in a 5km-radius along the boundary with BTAD in Dhubri district. Dhubri additional superintendent of police D. Bora said the army had been deployed in the area.

Inspector-general of police (law and order) S.N. Singh said 10 persons were killed when suspected militants struck at Nonkkagabari in Baksa district around 8pm tonight.

Last night, 10 persons were killed and five injured in three separate incidents in BTAD, which is governed by the Bodoland Territorial Council.

The attacks took place a few hours after the NDFB (S) issued a statement warning of “tit-for-tat retaliation” against the state and Union governments for killing two of its cadres and a civilian in a “fake encounter” with “Assam police and CRPF using Ranjan Daimary’s cadres” in Sonitpur district on Wednesday.

The NDFB was founded by Daimary but the Songbijit faction broke away in 2012 when the former decided to enter into peace talks with the government.

The Songbijit faction favours a “sovereign” Bodoland and is opposed to illegal influx from Bangladesh.

The statement, signed by NDFB (S) information and publicity secretary N. Esera, alleged that the three were arrested from the same village and, after an hour’s interrogation, were killed at point-blank range “without any justification”. It asked Daimary to stop the fratricidal bloodshed.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi reviewed the situation with civil and police officials in Guwahati this morning and instructed them to deal firmly with the situation. He asked senior police officials to take “sector-wise responsibility” for maintaining law and order in BTAD.

Gogoi also briefed Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde this morning on the incidents. Shinde assured Gogoi that additional forces would be sent.

The Centre said NDFB (S) leaders in Myanmar were trying to provoke communal tension in BTAD to divert attention from operations against them.

“We are told Songbijit has been sending messages from Myanmar to whip up communal tension in Bodoland to divert attention from operations against them. The Government of Myanmar has been informed of his presence but they have said they do not allow any anti-India activity from their soil,” said Shambhu Singh, the joint secretary (Northeast) in the home ministry.