Plague of bombings escalating in India
A series of apparently synchronized explosions tore through four towns in the troubled state of Assam in northeastern India on Thursday...
The New York Times
NEW DELHI — A series of apparently synchronized explosions tore through four towns in the troubled state of Assam in northeastern India on Thursday, killing at least 67 people and leaving more than 350 wounded, according to witnesses and the police.
It was the latest in a series of bombings in several parts of India as national elections approach in November. Before Thursday's explosions, about 150 people had died in seven recent attacks across the country.
The bombs were aimed at crowded markets and government buildings such as courts and police stations, witnesses said. The attacks, among the bloodiest in recent months, left streets littered with bodies and the wreckage of cars and motorcycles, according to witnesses at the scene.
There were no immediate reports that any group had taken responsibility for the bombings.
Since the early 1980s, Assam state has been riven by a separatist insurgency led by the United Liberation Front of Assam, which demands independence for the region of some 26 million people and often is blamed by the authorities for bombings. Last month, ethnic clashes left 57 people dead in the area when indigenous Bodos fought with Bengali-speaking Muslims.
Khagen Sharma, the inspector general of police in Assam state, said the authorities suspected the attacks may have been orchestrated by the United Liberation Front of Assam working with militant jihadist groups. Other recent bomb attacks have been blamed on Islamist militants from neighboring Bangladesh.
India's Muslims have grown resentful at being blamed by the authorities for many of the attacks. Last Friday, though, the police said that they had arrested three Hindus suspected of involvement in bombings last month in Malegaon, a small city in western Maharashtra state that has long simmered with religious tension.
At least one of the suspects belonged to the youth wing of a Hindu nationalist political party, police officials said, and several Indian news organizations have described the case as the first glimpse into radical Hindu groups that plot terrorist attacks. The bomb in Malegaon exploded in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood, killing four people.
In other violence, clashes between Hindus and Christians have swept through eastern Orissa state. Other flash points include insurgents in Kashmir and Maoist guerrillas across central India.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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