India's Assam State Hit by Fresh Violence

The most economically prosperous state in India's restive northeastern region is being wracked by new violence, including a bomb that killed two people. VOA's Steve Herman reports from New Delhi on the latest troubles in Assam.

Curfews are being extended in Assam in northeastern India after a fatal bomb blast Monday. Authorities are blaming an Assamese rebel group for the explosion.

Senior Superintendent of Police S.N. Singh spoke to reporters in the state capital, Guwahati. Singh says a bomb was planted on a motorcycle in front of a building and exploded in the busy market district at midday.

In addition to the fatalities, at least 10 people were injured.

Authorities have blamed the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom - known as ULFA - for carrying out more than 20 bombings in the state in the past two months.

Last week 19 people were injured in an explosion in Guwahati, while eight others were wounded in a car bomb blast in the eastern part of the state.

ULFA went on the offensive in January with attacks that killed 80 people, mainly Hindi-speaking migrant workers. That prompted the Indian military to carry out strikes against the group. It says it has killed 55 rebels and arrested more than 500 since January.

The rebel group has been fighting for an independent homeland in the resource-rich state since 1979. Analysts say most of the group's leadership operates from neighboring Bangladesh. The group previously had also operated out of a heavily forested region across the Indian border in Bhutan.

Monday's blast comes a day after six people were killed in a clash between migrant workers at a tea plantation and local youths. That violence stemmed from a blockade of a highway to protest the killing of a young farmer by the army in an anti-insurgency operation.

Local press reports say protesters backed by ULFA have been blocking the national highway for more than a week. That prompted angry tea laborers to pelt the protesters with stones because the blockade has cut the supply chain to a nearby tea plantation, preventing them from receiving their weekly rations.

The violence has forced the shutdown of oil refining operations at Digboi and other nearby facilities.

Violence connected to the insurgency in Assam during the past two decades has claimed more than ten thousand lives.

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