65 people killed and 335 injured as 11 bombs rock crowded markets in India
Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 8:40 PM on 30th October 2008
At least 65 people died as 11 bombs ripped through Indian towns in an apparently co-ordinated attack yesterday.
to 335 others were wounded by the explosions, many of which were in
crowded markets in the troubled north-eastern Assam state. Some bombs
were hidden in motorcycles or scooters.
Assam has been a
focus of a separatist insurgency for decades. But recent bomb attacks
have been blamed on Islamist militants from Bangladesh.
Bomb site: A man breaks the windscreen of a car, thought to be helping people trapped inside, after the bomb blast in Guwahati, the main city of India's troubled north-eastern Assam state
Officials said 33 were killed in four blasts in the state's capital, Guwahati. The other 32 were killed in three other towns in the state.
Firefighters doused the smouldering remains of cars and motorcycles in Guwahati. One of the blasts targeted a high-security zone with a court as well as offices and the homes of senior police officials.
Television channels showed some people lying on the streets, their clothes soaked in blood. Some of the walking wounded were helped into ambulances by local people and police.
'Immediately after the blast there was complete darkness for a while and I later saw several bodies and severed limbs all around,' said Bikash Goyal, a witness in Guwahati.
An injured man calls for help after being injured by a bomb
A wave of bomb attacks has hit India in recent months, killing more than 125 people.
Police have blamed most of those attacks on Islamists, although some Hindu militants have also been suspected of carrying out several attacks.
Security analysts and military intelligence officials
said the Assam blasts, the worst attack in the troubled northeast, bore
the hallmarks of strikes by Islamist militants.
'These blasts look like the handiwork of terrorist groups from Bangladesh, as you need sophisticated militant groups to carry out such coordinated attacks,' Major General Ashok Mehta, a security analyst, told Reuters in New Delhi.
'It is quite possible that separatist groups are not involved at all,' Mehta added.
Carnage: Damaged bikes destroyed by the blast in Guwahati
The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), Assam's major separatist group often blamed for attacks, denied involvement.
The blasts were condemned across South Asia.
'I am confident that the people of India will rise unitedly against these attempts to disturb peace and harmony and to destroy our social fabric,' Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a statement.
Pakistan, often blamed by New Delhi for fomenting trouble in neighbouring India, condemned the attacks and called for international cooperation to tackle strikes by militants.
Pankaj Goswami, a witness at one Guwahati blast, said: 'The impact of the blast was so huge, a packed bus got half burnt and we pulled out a lot of injured people and sent them to hospital.'
Local television said a curfew was imposed in Guwahati after angry crowds attacked police and set cars on fire. Police fired into the air to disperse the angry mob.
In October, at least two people were killed and 100 injured in four bomb blasts in Assam that police blamed on Muslim militant groups based in neighbouring Bangladesh.
A vehicle explodes in the fire. Dozens of people were killed in the bomb attacks
Last month, Assam was also hit by clashes between indigenous tribes and Muslim settlers that killed at least 47 people.
Ringed by China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan, India's northeast is home to more than 200 tribes and has been racked by separatist revolts since India gained independence from Britain in 1947.
Local citizens accuse New Delhi of taking away the region's mineral and forest resources, neglecting development and allowing in a flood of outsiders.
People look at a burning government vehicle. It is thought this vehicle was set alight by the crowd in anger after the bombings