Fear of more attacks grips Assam; toll at 81

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Guwahati, Nov 2: With four more persons succumbing to their injuries in the state capital, the toll in the Assam serial blasts has risen to 81, even as fear psychosis gripped the people with reports and rumours of fresh attacks creating panic.

The blast-scarred towns of Guwahati, Kokrajhar, Barpeta Road and Bongaigaon still visibly carried the terror of Black Thursday's bombings, with life yet to catch up. The toll has risen to 81 with four more injured persons succumbing in Guwahati on Suturday, Nov 1. Nine synchronised blasts had ripped across Assam - three each at Guwahati and Kokrajhar, two at Barpeta Road and one at Bongagion - on Thursday, killing scores on the spot and injuring over 400 people. The police's failure in making any noteworthy breakthrough in investigations have added to the rumours and panic, with speculations rife on possible new attacks, especially in upper Assam towns which were spared from Black Thursday's devastation.

The Army's reported statement before Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi here yesterday that Bangladeshi intelligence, Pakistan's ISI and ULFA were linked with the blasts, have further augmented the theory of Islamic fundamentalist groups carrying out the terror strikes with the help of the ULFA.

The name of Tauqeer, suspect in the Ahmedabad, Delhi and Mumbai blasts, has also emerged, with intelligence agencies claiming of intercepting messages, including from across the borders, which point to jehadi groups.

However, no firm confirmation has been given by the authorities even as special teams arrived from Jaipur and Delhi to assist the Assam Police in the investigations.

Three arrests have been made so far - two persons were arrested as a bike and a Maruti car used for planting the bombs were registered in their names, while the third arrested is the one from whose mobile number an SMS was sent claiming responsibility for the blasts.

An obscure group, Islamic Security Force (Indian Mujahideen) had claimed responsibility for the blasts, with the police now investigating the possible links of this little-known organisation with the serial blasts. The outfit had also threatened of more attacks in the state as well as in other parts of the country.

Meanwhile, the main Opposition party Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) today took out a procession to the Raj Bhavan and sat on a demonstration in front of the Governor's house.

The AGP demanded the immediate dismissal of the state government and imposition of President's Rule in the state.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had visited the state yesterday and inspected the blast site at the CJM campus here and met injured people at two hospitals.

They had also held a meeting with the state Cabinet and top security personnel, with Dr Singh reaffirming that there could be no compromise with national security.

He had also said that if it was proved that neighbouring countries were sponsoring terrorism, it would be taken up with those governments.

Meanwhile, the state headed for another shutdown tomorrow with All Assam Students Union and Assam Chamber of Commerce calling for a 24-hour bandh.

The state had witnessed a 12-hour statewide bandh yesterday, called by the Sangh Parivar, which had brought life to a complete standstill.

However, the bandhs have drawn flak from the people as attendants of the injured faced problems in transportation and the bandh fueled the tense situation that is already prevailing.


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