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Monday, January 08, 2007

ULFA strikes Assam

ULFA attacks AssamSeparatist militants gunned down 10 people in two attacks in restive Assam on Sunday, bringing the death toll in a wave of rebel violence since Friday night to 67, police said.

Hundreds of soldiers and police raided insurgent hideouts in jungles of the northeastern state after two days of coordinated rebel strikes.

Police blamed the attacks on the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), which has been fighting for the independence of Assamese people in a conflict that began almost three decades ago and has killed thousands of people.

"We are going all out against the ULFA," Tarun Gogoi, Assam's chief minister, told Reuters.

"Massive combing operations have started and additional troops are being rushed to the affected areas."

Rebel attacks have increased since September after the ULFA and New Delhi called off peace talks and government troops ended a truce. Since then, the rebels have bombed crowded markets and railway stations, killing dozens of civilians.

The weekend wave of violence started late on Friday with the gunning down of 48 labourers and traders. An explosion on Saturday killed seven people, including four policemen.

The attacks continued on Sunday with the rebels killing 12 people, including nine labourers at a brick kiln and two supporters of the ruling Congress party in the oil- and tea producing state, police said.

Security officials said the attackers had fled to the mountains of neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh.

Last week the ULFA warned non-Assamese businessmen and labourers of dire consequences if they continued to live in Assam, accusing New Delhi of flooding the state with outsiders to reduce the indigenous Assamese population to a minority.

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