Assam shuts down to BJP call, little progress in blasts probe

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Guwahati, Nov 1 (UNI) Two days after serial blasts ripped apart Assam, investigations are yet to make much headway, with the government today announcing rewards for any leads on the blasts, even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chaiperson Sonia Gandhi visited the state amidst a statewide shutdown called by the saffron brigade.

Police claimed to have identified ammonium nitrate and RDX-based timer devices used in the three blasts at Guwahati, with similar explosives also likely to have been used in the other six blasts at Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon and Barpeta Road.

At least 77 people were killed and over 400 injured in nine synchronised blasts - three each at Guwahati and Kokrajhar, two at Barpeta Road and one at Bongaigaon - on Thursday.

''The investigating teams have found typical Programmable Timed Device (PTD) switch at the Ganeshguri site and similar nature of explosives at all the three sites in Guwahati,'' IGP (law and order) B J Mahanta said.

The use of PTD enabled the terrorists to set off the bombs in a synchronised fashion, he added.

Claiming that leads were being pursued to nab the culprits, Mr Mahanta informed that three people had been arrested so far, while few others were being detained for questioning, based on suspicion.

The arrested are Zulfikar Ali, Tikendra Saikia and Biswa Buragohain.

The IGP added that Maruti cars were used for the explosions in Guwahati, while a motorbike was used for planting the bomb at Bongaigaon.

The motorbike has been traced to Zulfikar Ali of Moirabari in Morigaon district and he was arrested last evening.

Based on the chassis number of the car used in the Pan Bazaar blast, Jonali and Tikendra Saikia of Nagaon were being brought to Guwahati as the car was originally registered in their names, with the couple maintaining that they had sold the car about four years back to meet some emergency medical expenses.

A prospective important lead was established when a Guwahati-based advocate Pradeep Konwar today claimed that he had spotted two suspicious looking people near the CJM court, the spot of the Pan Bazaar blast.

Sketches of the suspects would be prepared by the police artists based on Mr Konwar's description. The advocate's car was parked next to the Maruti car that was used to plant the bomb at the site.

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