The casualties took place as devices containing high- intensity explosives went off between 11 a.m. and noon today in the city of Guwahati and the Barpeta, Bongaigaon and Kokrajhar districts, state Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in a phone interview. Most of the bombings were in crowded places, he said. Authorities imposed a curfew in some parts of Guwahati. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks.
Cities and towns across India have been targeted recently in bombings, with devices strapped to bicycles, hidden under auditorium seats and left near market stalls. About 40 bomb attacks took place from May 13 to Oct. 21, killing 175 people. The blasts on Oct. 21 in Imphal, capital of the northeastern state of Manipur, left at least 17 people dead.
Ethnic clashes in tea- and oil-rich Assam killed 49 people this month. The clashes began Oct. 3 in the Udalguri district, between members of the indigenous Bodo tribe and Muslim settlers from neighboring Bangladesh, and spread to other areas. The two sides are involved in longstanding land disputes.
Assam, which also shares a border with Bhutan, is home to several rebel groups. At least 314 security personnel and civilians were killed last year in violence in the state.
Within a shortwhile Ministry of Home Affair issued a press statement: The Union Home Minister, Shri Shivraj Patil has condemned today’s blasts in Assam. Following is the text of his statement.
“ I am deeply aggrieved at the loss of lives in today’s blasts in Assam. I convey my heartfelt condolences to the kin of the deceased and wish speedy recovery to the injured. These are cowardly acts perpetrated by the elements which do not want peace to prevail in Assam and the rest of the North-East. No words are strong enough to condemn the blasts. I appeal to the people of Assam to unitedly meet this challenge. A post-blast team of NSG is reaching Assam shortly. The State Government has been requested to send a detailed report and strengthen the security measures in the affected and vulnerable areas.
The Union Home Ministry is in close touch with the Assam Government and will extend all possible help to them to nab the culprits at the earliest.”