Police arrest two more over Assam bombings

Other News Materials 2 November 2008 15:48 (UTC +04:00)

Police in India's north-eastern state of Assam have arrested two more men in connection with the multiple bombings in the region that claimed 81 lives, taking the total number of arrests to five, news reports said Sunday, dpa reported.

The two latest arrests in eastern Lakhimpur district followed questioning of suspects detained earlier, the PTI news agency reported.

The two were involved a car-theft racket and helped in "duplicating the names of owners of the vehicles which were used in the blasts" police officers told the agency. It was not clear when the arrests were made.

The state police had already arrested three other people in connection with the blasts, including a man from whose mobile phone a text message was sent Friday to a local television news channel claiming responsibility.

Meanwhile a special investigative team of the state police said they were preparing sketches of suspects involved in the attacks and would soon release them.

Security agencies remain in the dark about which militant or terrorist organisation carried out the synchronized bombings.

Assam was rocked Thursday by a wave of bombings - 12 blasts in quick succession - six in Guwahati, and six in the three western districts of Barpeta, Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon.

More than 400 people were injured as the bombs placed in cars, autorickshaws and drains in busy market areas exploded within minutes of each other in the worst terrorist strike the state has seen. Forty- five people died in Guwahati alone.

Authorities earlier indicated that local militant groups in collaboration with Islamist groups based in Bangladesh may have been involved in the attacks.

The most influential rebel army in the state, the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), denied involvement.

The ULFA has been fighting Indian security forces for an independent homeland for the Assamese for the last three decades.

Former ULFA militants told the Indo-Asian News Service IANS that although ULFA possessed explosives and programmable timer devices, it could not have carried out the bombings because of the risk of losing local support.

"I don't think the ULFA would carry out the strikes killing innocent civilians as they would not like to be marginalized," Jiten Dutta, a former ULFA commander, told the IANS.