48 killed, 300 injured in Assam serial blasts (Fourth Lead)

October 30th, 2008 - 5:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, Oct 30 (IANS) Terror gripped Assam after a series of 11 bomb blasts rocked the state Thursday killing at least 48 people and injuring about 300. Authorities clamped an indefinite curfew here after angry mobs went on the rampage, even setting fire-fighting vehicles ablaze.”A total of 48 people were killed in the blasts and at least 300 injured. In Guwahati alone 25 people were killed and 150 injured in four blasts,” Assam Home Commissioner Subhas Das said.

“Eleven people were killed in three explosions in Kokrajhar district, 12 in Barpeta district,” the official said.

Police officials in Kokrajhar, however, said the death toll in the explosions was 17.

A police spokesman said there were 11 blasts in a span of about an hour beginning 11.20 am - four in Guwahati including one close to the chief minister’s secretariat, three in Barpeta district, three in Kokrajhar district and one in Bongaigaon district, all in western Assam.

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 to control the flames.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said: “This is an act of cowardice and we shall deal with the situation firmly.

“A red alert has been sounded across the state. It is a designed and planned attack carried out to spread terror,” he said.

The four blasts in Guwahati took place at the busy Ganeshguri area, Panbazar, Fancy Bazar and Paltan Bazar.

“The area was teeming with people, officegoers, shoppers and vendors when a very big explosion took place,” Arindam Das, a witness, said describing the blast scene at the Ganeshguri area in Guwahati.

“I saw at least six bodies, while more than 30 people were lying on the ground and bleeding,” he said.

Another blast took place in front of the District Magistrate’s court in Guwahati where five people were killed.

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

No militant group has claimed responsibility for the explosions.

“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,” G.P. Singh said.

As fire and police officials reached the blast sites to rescue the injured, people vented their ire accusing them of arriving late.

Police had to fire in the air to disperse an angry mob who went on a rampage while two fire brigade tankers were torched in the city.

“We have clamped indefinite curfew in Guwahati to restore order after the mob went out of control and attacked fire and official vehicles,” C.K. Bhuyan, a magistrate, said.

In New Delhi, Home Minister Shivraj Patil went into a huddle with National Security Adviser 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.”

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani condemned the terror attack. “It again highlights the issue of Bangladeshi illegal immigrants in the country,” he said.

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

In the national capital, 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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