Choreographed bombings across Assam kill at least 30 (Third Lead)

October 30th, 2008 - 4:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, Oct 30 (IANS) Terror struck in India’s northeastern Assam state Thursday killing at least 30 people in a series of synchronised bombings that targeted busy markets in its main city Guwahati and several areas in the west. In one of the worst terror attacks in the restive northeast, 12 bombs went off in less than an hour in Guwahati as well as in the districts of Barpeta, Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon. More than 100 people were injured, at least 30 of whom are in a critical condition.

A police spokesperson said the blasts began at 11.20 a.m. and went off one after another in rapid succession — five in Guwahati, three each in Barpeta and Kokrajhar and one in Bongaigaon.

Thick black smoke billowed into the sky, and the mangled remains of cars littered Guwahati’s streets even as fire brigade personnel and rescue workers rushed in to control the flames.

“We have to fight those forces that are trying to divide the nation,” said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was in the Maharashtra town of Nanded to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Guru Granth Sahib.

“People should fight terrorism unitedly,” the prime minister, who represents Assam in the Rajya Sabha, said after the news of the terror attack came in.

In New Delhi, Home Minister Shivraj Patil went into a huddle with National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan to discuss measures to control the situation in the region.

Minister of State for Home Shakeel Ahmad was forthright in condemning the politics of hate that had led to the high intensity blasts. Recalling that there had been communal clashes in Assam in early October in which 57 people were killed, he said: “Such acts of terror are the result of politics of hate that is being spread in different parts of the country.”

Police in Assam estimate that more than 20 people were killed in the five blasts in Guwahati — in the bustling Ganeshguri area, Panbazar, Fancy Bazar, Paltan Bazar and outside the district magistrate’s court.

No militant group has claimed responsibility for the explosions that left residents stunned.

“The area was teeming with people, officer goers, shoppers and vendors when a very big explosion took place,” said Arindam Das, describing the scene in Ganeshguri. “I saw at least six bodies. More than 30 people were lying on the ground and bleeding.

“Some of the bodies were charred beyond recognition,” Deputy Inspector General of Assam Police G.P. Singh said.

“We don’t know about the nature of explosives or who could be behind the attacks as we are now busy carrying out rescue operations,” he added.

Besides, 10 people were killed in three blasts in crowded marketplaces in Kokrajhar district, about 250 km west of Guwahati.

As police grappled with the situation, panic spread in other parts of the country as well.

In New Delhi, for instance, harried people from Assam spent anxious moments working the jammed telephone lines.

“I have been trying to get through to my family and relatives for a long time. As the blasts took place, everybody is out. One of the blast sites (in Guwahati) is the main market and my father has to cross it on his way to office,” said Delhi University student Rashik, whose home is behind Guwahati’s Fancy Bazar.

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