India: separatists or jihadis behind Assam terror?

Eleven near-simultaneous bomb blasts tore through Guwahati and the towns of Barpeta, Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon in India’s conflicted northeastern Assam state, killing 40 people and wounding 200 late Oct. 30. Most of the blasts targeted crowded markets. One of the nine bombs in Guwahati also targeted a crowded bus. A state of emergency has been declared throughout Assam. After the blasts in Guwahati, a crowd of angry residents threw rocks at the police, who fired into the air to disperse them. A curfew has been imposed in the city.

Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the blasts, but authorities are said to suspect either the separatist United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) or the Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI), a Bangladesh-based Islamist group. (NYT, Oct. 31; Times of India, Reuters, Oct. 30)

In late September, seven suspected HuJI militants were killed in a skirmish with the Indian army’s Jat Regiment in Assam’s Bashbari district. Pistols and improvised explosive devices were confiscated. Authorities said the cell had infiltrated from Bangladesh. (The Hindu, Sept. 27)

Earlier this month, communal violence between indigenous tribal peoples and and peasant colonists from Bangladesh left scores dead and thousands displaced in Assam.

See our last posts on India, the jihad in India, Assam and other tribal struggles.