11 injured in blast in Assam; Ulfa-I role under scanner

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Eleven people, including two security personnel, were injured in a grenade blast outside a busy shopping mall in Guwahati’s Zoo Road area on Wednesday evening, police said.

The incident took place around 7.30 pm when a grenade lobbed by suspected United Liberation Front of Assam (Independent) militants exploded outside the mall.

“The grenade blast took place close to a security check point. Eleven people including two security personnel from Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) posted at the check point were injured, ” Guwahati police commissioner Deepak Kumar told reporters.

“Since the blast took place near the check point, it could be possible that the target could have been security personnel,” he added.

The injured have been rushed to the Guwahati Medical College Hospital where the condition of two, a father and daughter duo, are stated to be critical.

Although local news channels reported that the banned ULFA-I, headed by Paresh Baruah, had owned up the blast, Hindustan Times couldn’t independently verify the claim. Another faction of the ULFA, led by Arabinda Rajkhowa, has entered the peace process and is currently engaged in a dialogue with the central government.

Meanwhile, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal condemned the incident and directed police to take action to nab the culprits behind the blast. The blast took place on a day when Sonowal held a security review meeting of Guwahati following intelligence reports of possible terror attacks in the city.

Several ULFA-I cadres have been arrested or surrendered in recent weeks following operations against them in Myanmar where their camps are located as well as on the Indian side.

On Wednesday, three ULFA-I cadres, including one who is said to have taken part in the murder of an Assam police officer in May last year, had surrendered before the army.

“Due to sustained joint operations many ULFA-I cadres have either surrendered or been nabbed. Whether there is any connection between that and the grenade blast, only investigation would reveal,” Assam Police DGP Kuladhar Saikia said

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