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17 killed in Assam blast, Dhemaji SP suspended
August 15, 2004 10:28 IST
Last Updated: August 15, 2004 21:06 IST
At least 17 school children, including nine girls, were killed and 40 injured in a bomb explosion at an official Independence Day function in Assam's Dhemaji town on Sunday.
The United Liberation Front of Asom, which had given a boycott call for I-day celebrations, is suspected to be behind the attack.
The powerful blast took place at around 9:00am at the entrance of the Dhemaji College when the official I-Day celebration of the district was about to begin killing 16 children on the spot.
The injured have been admitted to Dhemaji Civil Hospital, official sources said. One child succumbed to injuries at the Dhemaji Civil Hospital.
Agitated, people started pelting stones on police vehicles after the blast and gheraoed them forcing them to launch a lathi charge and fire tear gas. When they failed to bring the situation under control, police fired some shots in the air.
Condemning the incident as 'most inhuman' Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi suspended the district Superintendent of Police T Thangou for 'serious dereliction of duty as the incident happened when militants had already called for a boycott and general strike today'.
Inspector General of Police Khagen Sarma said no ministers or VIPs were scheduled to address the I-day function in the college and the militants might have chosen it as a soft target.
A probe would be ordered into the security lapse, if any, as vigil had been stepped up in the wake of the ULFA's boycott and strike call.
The Minister of State for Home Ruckbul Hussain and DGP P V Sumant have rushed to Dhemaji to take stock of the situation. Gogoi will visit the area on Monday. Policemen have been deployed in the entire town and additional security pickets have been posted in view of the panic and tension.
Two more explosions were reported from the state on Sunday. ULFA militants had planted a bomb in the VIP gallery at an Independence Day function in Dhubri. Another bomb exploded in Dhokuakana area in Dhemaji district. There was no report of any casualty.
On Saturday, ULFA had triggered an explosion in Dhubri district killing one person and injuring 22 others.