- The Washington Times - Monday, April 6, 2009

GAUHATI, INDIA (AP) - Police say a grenade attack in India’s restive northeast has injured two police officers in the region’s third attack of the day.

The blasts, which have left seven dead and more than 60 injured, came a day before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was scheduled to visit the region to campaign for national elections that begin later this month.

Local police official Bhartha Mahanta said the grenade attack occurred Monday evening in the town of Mankachar in Assam state on the India-Bangladesh border. The grenade was thrown at a police station, injuring two police officers, one of them critically.

The other two blasts occurred in Gauhati, the state capital, and Dhekiajuli, 130 miles (210 kilometers) to the north.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

GAUHATI, India (AP) _ Two bombs ripped through crowded markets in India’s restive northeast Monday, killing at least seven people and wounding 60 others, police said.

The blasts came a day before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was scheduled to visit the region while campaigning for national elections that begin later this month.

Authorities suspected the separatist United Liberation Front of Asom was behind the attacks, which came less than a week after a deadly blast in Gauhati, the capital of Assam state, said senior police official G.P. Singh.

The first bomb was likely tied to a motorbike and exploded in a crowded market in Gauhati, killing seven people and wounding at least 56, said senior police official G.M. Srivastava. The blast left several cars on fire amid piles of smoldering wreckage.

After the immediate panic subsided, angry crowds threw stones at police officers who they said were slow to arrive at the scene and had failed to protect the public.

Hours later, a second bomb, this one tied to a bicycle, went off in a market in the town of Dhekiajuli, 130 miles (210 kilometers) north of Gauhati, Srivastava said. At least four people were wounded, he said.

A spokeswoman for Singh’s office, Deepak Sandhu, said the prime minister’s trip had not been canceled.

Srivastava said police had recently received information that the front had been planning a major attack in Gauhati.

The blasts occurred on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the founding of the militant group, which has been linked to many acts of terrorism in Assam and usually stages attacks around this time of year.

The United Liberation Front of Asom wants an independent state for ethnic Assamese and is the largest among dozens of militant groups in the region.

The separatists accuse the government of exploiting the area’s natural resources while doing little for the indigenous people _ most of whom are ethnically closer to people of Myanmar and China than to the rest of India.

More than 10,000 people have died in separatist violence over the past decade. The March 31 blast in Gauhati left one dead and 13 wounded.

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