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ULFA volte-face on Dhemaji blast

August 20, 2004 14:47 IST

In a volte-face, the banned United Liberation Front of Asom has reportedly denied its involvement in the Independence Day blast at Dhemaji in Assam, in which 17 people, including 10 children, were killed.

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A caller identifying himself as ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Barua told a local daily over telephone on Thursday night that the outfit was not behind the blast but "we cannot rule out the involvement of other groups sympathetic to our cause."

He further said that the media had "misinterpreted" the statement made by the outfit's chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa on the incident.

Rajkhowa, in an e-mail statement to the local media on August 16, had owned responsibility for the blast but blamed the state government for using children as shields.

Rajkhowa had said the outfit, along with five other militant outfits of the northeast, had appealed to the people to boycott the Independence Day celebrations.

"The state administration, however, without caring for the lives of innocent children, used them as shields to achieve its political goal. Nobody except the administration is responsible for the tragedy," he said.

The Dhemaji blast has evoked widespread condemnation and protests. The All Assam Students' Union had called a bandh on August 18.

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