At least 48 people are feared to have died and about 100 injured in 18 blasts that rocked Assam on Thursday a little before noon. Four blasts occurred in Guwahati’s crowded areas.
The casualty figures are likely to rise with the condition of many of the injured being critical. The injured included many women and children.
Powerful, high-intensity bombs went off simultaneously at around 11.30 am. The first blast in Guwahati occurred at a vegetable and fruit market at Ganeshguri near the flyover adjacent to the high security secretariat and the Assembly.
The blast caused a major fire in the area with smoke engulfing the entire market and nearby places. Guwahati Superintendent of Police G P Singh said that the police and fire brigade were engaged in controlling the fire.
The next blast occurred in front of the DC’s office injuring many and destroying several cars parked there, the sources said.
The third explosion rocked areas near the police station of the busy Fancy Bazar, triggering panic among shoppers, many of whom were injured, the sources said.
Two other bombs exploded at Ganeshguri near the capital complex and Fancy Bazar area.
Three blasts took place in Barpeta district, while two explosions occurred in Bongaigaon. Two persons were killed in twin blasts in Kokrajhar districts, the sources said.
In Kokrajhar, the explosives were suspected to have been planted in a two-wheeler.
Following the blasts, which the police suspect to be the handiwork of the banned ULFA and HUJI extremists, a red alert was sounded across the state. Later, curfew was imposed in Guwahati after angry crowds attack ambulances and fire engines.
Assam government too appeared to go along the police line. “It is very early to make a conclusion but ULFA has a history of triggering serial blasts,” Assam’s Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters minutes after the explosions.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister Shivraj Patil condemned the blasts. Minister of State for Home Shakeel Ahmed said there was no intelligence failure. However, Leader of Opposition L K Advani charged that the “UPA has completely failed to curb terror,” adding “it seems Bangladeshi militants are behind the blasts.”
The Union Home Ministry is seeking an immediate report from the Assam government on the serial blasts. Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta spoke to Assam Chief Secretary to find out the details of the incidents. (With PTI inputs)