Unknown terror group claims responsibility for Assam blasts, toll mounts to 77 (Roundup)

October 31st, 2008 - 10:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, Oct 31 (IANS) An unknown terror group calling itself ‘The Islamic Security Force (Indian Mujahideen)’ Friday claimed responsibility for the serial bombings Thursday in Assam that left at least 77 people dead and more than 300 injured. Police have traced the mobile number to a place in eastern Assam and identified the owner of the SIM card.”We ISF-IM take the responsibility of yesterday’s blast. We warn all of Assam and India of situations like this in future. We thank all our holy members and partners. Ameen”, the group said in a text SMS sent to a local television channel in Guwahati.

The mobile number has been traced to a place called Moirabari in eastern Assam’s Morigaon district and the owner of the SIM card identified as Nasir Ahmed. Meanwhile, police detained more than 15 people for interrogation from various parts of the state in connection with the bombings.

The police have confirmed the existence of a terror outfit by this name. They said such a group was floated in 2000 in western Assam and was basically aimed at fighting Bodo militants. In 2000, Bodo tribal militants had launched a violent campaign targeting Muslims.

After the news channel aired the story the police began investigating the source of the SMS message claiming responsibility for the blasts, a senior police official said.

“Due to reasons of security, we would not like to spell out details about the investigations. But I would like to assure that the government would try and nab the culprits soon,” union Home Minister Shivraj Patil said here.

Patil arrived in Assam and visited Kokrajhar in western Assam and met the injured. The home minister had to beat a hasty retreat after hundreds of locals shouted anti-government slogans. The minister later chaired a high level security meeting in Guwahati with Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and senior police and civil officials at the Raj Bhawan.

Meanwhile, police zeroed in on the owners of two cars and a motorbike that were used to place the bombs in Guwahati.

“We are on track and very soon would be able to crack the case,” a senior police official said.

Assam was rocked by a wave of bombings - 12 blasts in quick succession - six in Guwahati, and six in the three western districts of Barpeta, Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon Thursday afternoon, killing at least 77 people and injuring more than 300.

“The injured are being treated at various hospitals and if required we shall shift some of the victims to Delhi or other places for advanced treatment,” Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told IANS.

“We are determined to fight back terror and ensure security to the people of Assam,” said Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

A seven-member elite NSG team arrived Thursday evening to help in the investigations. “We cannot comment on anything now,” said a National Security Guard (NSG) detective in Guwahati.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani Friday visited blast sites in Guwahati and met injured victims at the hospital although he was greeted with ‘go back Advani’ slogans by lawyers in the city. “We don’t want politicians to come and politicize the situation,” lawyers shouted as he visited one of the blast sites.

The BJP leader lashed out at the central and the state governments for failing to provide security to the people.

“The government, both at the centre and in Assam, is responsible for the blasts. Illegal Bangladeshi infiltration is one of the reasons and the prime minister needs to explain to the people what the government did to check the influx,” Advani told journalists.

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