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Two Bomb Explode in India's Northeastern Assam State


In India's northeastern Assam State, seven people have been killed and more than 50 injured in two powerful bomb blasts. The violence took place just a day before the Indian prime minister is scheduled to visit the state. The blasts have been blamed on a militant group based in the area.

Police say the first bomb exploded in a parking area in a crowded market in Assam's main city Gawahati. Several people, including a woman, were killed, and dozens were injured.

There was chaos as several vehicles and buildings in the area caught fire. Police say the bomb was likely planted on a motorcycle.

Two hours later, another bomb went off in the town of Dhekiajuli, about 150 kilometers north of Guwahati, injuring several people.

Police blamed the attacks on a militant group known as the United Liberation Front of Assam, which observes its 30th anniversary on Tuesday. The group has been waging a violent campaign for an independent state for ethnic Assamese.

"This is done by ULFA boys in the run up to 7th April which is their foundation day. Every year around this time for almost around a week the state remains on high alert. In last five, six days," said G.M. Srivastav, Assam's Director General of Police, "there have been a number of attempts by them, and this seems to be one odd case where we have missed it and they could enter the town."

The latest violence occurred despite tight security in the city ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the state on Tuesday to address an election rally. India's general elections begin later this month.

Last week, one person died when militants planted a bomb close to a venue in Guwahati where Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee was due to address an election rally. The rally was subsequently canceled.

India's remote northeast is a restive region in which nearly two-dozen armed militant groups have been waging violent campaigns for more than three decades. The militants accuse the federal government of exploiting the rich resources of the area, but neglecting its development. Several efforts at negotiating peace with the militant groups have been unsuccessful.

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