Mon, Oct 04, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Indian rebel attacks continue

GANDHI'S BIRTHDAY As the nation honored its nonviolent independence leader, a series of bombings and shootings entered a second day, killing 53 and wounding 141


India's insurgency-racked northeast was reeling yesterday from one of its deadliest waves of violence in years, as police reported more killings overnight that brought the death toll to 53 with 141 injured.

A string of bloody blasts and shootouts in adjoining Assam and Nagaland states on Saturday killed at least 44 people. Overnight another five victims died in hospitals, while four others were killed in fresh violence, police said yesterday.

In New York, UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan condemned the attacks, saying he had learned of the violence with "shock and dismay."

The attacks came as India on Saturday commemorated the birth of the country's independence leader Mohandas Gandhi, a champion of non-violence.

Fifteen people were wounded yesterday when rebels lobbed a grenade at shoppers in a teeming market in northern Assam's Sonitpur district, 180km from Gauhati, a police spokesman said.

Late on Saturday, one person was killed when gunmen fired on a train near Bagmari village in eastern Assam.

Three National Democratic Front of Bodoland militants were killed when an explosive device they were planting exploded in northern Assam's Darrang district early yesterday, police said.

The bloodshed began early Saturday in Dimapur, the commercial hub of Nagaland, when three bombs exploded almost simultaneously in what an official called the state's worst terrorist strike.

Police said a plastic explosive appeared to have been used in a powerful blast at a railway station in Dimapur that dug a large crater next to a platform packed with passengers awaiting a train.

"There were limbs everywhere and blood was splattered all over," said student leader T. Zheviho.

Nagaland authorities blamed the attacks on rebels seeking to disrupt the peace process.

Services were planned Sunday in churches across Nagaland, which has a large Christian population, to pray for the 28 people killed by the three Dimapur bombs.

"We're in a state of shock and disbelief. The only way we can heal the wounds is by offering prayers in memory of the departed and for the well-being of those who lived," said G. Ginam, a state Baptist council member.

The attacks shattered the relative calm of Nagaland, where a truce has been in force since 1997 with the region's largest separatist group, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland. The group denied any hand in the blasts.

In one of the worst strikes in Assam, gunmen on Saturday shot at shoppers in a market at Makri Jhora village, 290km west of Gauhati. Police said 11 were killed and 12 injured.

Assam police official Khagen Sharma blamed the attacks on two of around 30 rebel groups fighting for greater autonomy or independence in the region.

More than 50,000 people have died in the remote northeast in nearly six decades of fighting between security forces and rebel groups, who accuse New Delhi of exploiting the area's natural resource wealth.

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