ULFA denies Assam blast that killed one and wounded 40


Guwahati : The outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has denied triggering a blast at a crowded village market in Assam Wednesday that killed one person and wounded 40 people.

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A powerful bomb went off at a crowded daily vegetable market at village Gulutuk in Kamrup district, about 50 km west of Assam's main city of Guwahati, in the afternoon.

"We want to make it very clear that the outfit is not at all involved in today's blast. In fact, it is the Assam Public Works (APW) that is behind the explosion and is a deliberate attempt to put the blame on us," ULFA spokesman Raju Baruah said in a statement received by IANS.

The APW is a non-government organisation known for its anti-ULFA stand. The group earlier this year published an opinion poll saying more than 95 percent people in Assam rejected ULFA's demand for independence.

Local police officials who were at the site of the blast said most of the injured were either shoppers or vendors.

"Some 40 people were injured, including four children and five women, in the explosion. Most of them were shifted to the Guwahati Medical College. The explosive was concealed inside a sack," police official A. Das said. Three of the injured were in a critical condition, he added.

Police earlier blamed the ULFA for the blast.

The explosion came a day after the central government conveyed its willingness to restart 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 the ULFA but wants a "communication from the rebel leaders expressing their willingness for unconditional talks."

Narayanan made the offer through Indira Goswami, a noted Assamese writer, who met him in New Delhi 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.