Terror struck Assam on the eve of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit when three blasts and a grenade attack rocked the state in the space of five hours on Monday, killing eight persons and injuring 62, with maximum casualties occurring in a crowded market in Maligaon in Guwahati.
Singh is going ahead with his trip to the North-Eastern state on Tuesday and will address public meetings in Dispur and in Dibrugarh as scheduled, Prime Minister's Office sources said in New Delhi. Dr Singh represents Assam in the Rajya Sabha and the rallies mark his entry into the poll campaign trail.
Suspected United Liberation Front of Asom militants triggered a powerful explosion at the Maligaon area in the western part of Guwahati city at around 2 pm on Monday, killing at least 7 persons including three on the spot and injuring 30 others.
The blast also occurred just a day before the 'Raising Day' of the banned ULFA .
Three of the deceased were identified as Bhupen Kumar, Mousom Khanun (10) and Narayan Chandra Das. They were declared dead in Guwahati Medical College Hospital.
Several cars were also damaged in the explosion that took place in front of a restaurant opposite to a police station. The blast sparked a raging fire in the area, as local people went berserk attacking policemen and media persons near the blast site.
The injured were rushed to three hospitals in the city including Guwahati Medical College Hospital, Maligaon Railway Hospital and a private nursing home at Maligaon area.
Five persons were injured in a separate blast that occurred at Dhekiajuli town in Sonitpur district of North Assam at around 3-30 pm on Monday. Police informed that an improvised explosive device was planted on a bi-cycle which went off injuring five persons including a Central Reserve Police Force official and a Railway Protection Force constable.
The injured were identified as CRPF sub-inspector Baljit Singh, Prabhakar Das, Suman Duta, Prabin Agarwal and Gopichan Agarwal.
Earlier, suspected militants triggered another blast at Chokihola under Santipur police station in Karbi Anglong hill district at around 8-45 am on Monday morning. The bomb was planted in a local market that was yet to open for the day. No one was injured in the blast.
The security forces in the state had sounded alert before the 'Raising Day' of the outlawed ULFA on April 7 fearing desperate attempts by the outfit to trigger violence and blasts in different parts of the state, especially in Guwahati city.
The police on Sunday released photographs of two dreaded ULFA cadres, Monohari Rajbongshi and Pradip Kalita who have been believed to have sneaked into the state's capital to carry out strikes around ULFA's raising day. Rajbonghi belongs to 709 battalion of the outfit while Kalita is from 27 battalion of the ULFA.
Senior police officials informed that both ULFA cadres were well trained to use weapons and explosives.