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7 die in Indian terror attacks

THREE explosive attacks struck India's restless northeastern state of Assam, killing at least seven people and wounding dozens yesterday, a day before an election campaign visit by the prime minister.

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the trip would go ahead despite the attacks, believed to be the work of the separatist United Liberation Front of Asom.

"This is a coordinated attack" by the militant group, said G. M. Srivastava, the state's top police official.

The blasts occurred on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the founding of the United Liberation Front of Asom, which has been linked to many acts of terrorism in Assam.

The first bomb was likely tied to a motorbike and exploded in a crowded market in the state capital, Gauhati, killing seven people and wounding at least 56, said Srivastava. The blast left several cars on fire amid piles of smoldering wreckage.

After the immediate panic subsided, angry crowds threw stones at police officers who they said were slow to arrive at the scene and had failed to protect the public.

Hours later, a second bomb, this one tied to a bicycle, went off in a market in the town of Dhekiajuli, 210 kilometers north of Gauhati, Srivastava said.

At least four people were wounded, he said.

Later in the day, suspected militants threw a grenade at a police station in the town of Mankachar on the India-Bangladesh border, said local police official Bhartha Mahanta. Two police officers were injured, one of them critically, Mahanta said.

Suspected militants also threw a grenade at a police station in Udalguri in northern Assam that failed to explode, said senior police official Bhaskar Mahanta.

Srivastava said police had recently received information that the front had been planning a major attack in Gauhati.

The United Liberation Front of Asom wants an independent state for ethnic Assamese and is the largest among dozens of militant groups in the region.


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