One killed, 40 wounded in Assam market blast


Guwahati : At least one person was killed and 40 wounded, three of them critically, in a powerful explosion that ripped through a village market in Assam Wednesday.

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A police spokesperson said the bomb went off in a crowded vegetable market in village Gulutuk in Kamrup district, about 50 km west of Assam's main city of Guwahati.

"One person died on the spot. The intensity of the blast was reported to be of high magnitude," Debojit Hazarika, the police chief of Kamrup district, told IANS.

Police officials at the site said most of the injured were shoppers or vendors.

"Some 40 people were injured, including four children and five women, in the explosion with most them shifted to Guwahati Medical College. The explosive was concealed inside a sack," police official A. Das said.

The police blamed the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) for the attack. "The ULFA is active in the area," Hazarika said.

The explosion comes a day after New Delhi set conditions for restarting peace talks with the ULFA to end close to three decades of insurgency in Assam.

National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan Tuesday told a civil society team from Assam that New Delhi was ready to resume negotiations with ULFA but wants a "communication from the rebel leaders expressing their willingness for unconditional talks".

Narayanan made the remarks to noted Assamese writer Indira Goswami, who met him along with three other members of a newly floated group called the Nagarik Shanti Mancha Assam (Citizen's Peace Forum of Assam).

Goswami, who was earlier heading the ULFA nominated People's Consultative Group (PCG), also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday.

"The government also said that the release of top jailed ULFA leaders would be considered only after the negotiations begin," said Goswami, who has led three rounds of talks on behalf of the PCG since October 2005.

Dialogue collapsed in September last year with New Delhi accusing the rebel group of stepping up violence and extortion in Assam.

Goswami said she would appeal to the ULFA to resume peace talks.

"We will now appeal to ULFA and put across the government's view. If they are fighting for us, then they will have to listen to us," she said.