Serial blasts rock Guwahati
[The Statesman] –GUWAHATI, Jan. 22. — Two persons, including a policeman, were killed and several others injured, including eight policemen, in an Ulfa orchestrated serial blasts that rocked Assam today. In all, nine explosions took place.
All the explosions were carried out between 6 and 6-30 p.m., making mockery of the “tight security” in the state capital in view of the Republic Day. Meanwhile, alert has been sounded in Assam.
Three ASEB transformers, one at Sonari in Sivasagar district and two in Lakhimpur district were blown off. Three policemen were injured in one of the blast at Lakhimpur district. A crude carrying pipeline of the Oil India Limited (OIL) and a gas pipeline of Assam Gas Company Limited (AGCL) were blown off at Duliajan in Dibrugarh district of the state this evening.
Police informed that ultras exploded a grenade near a police reserve in the Paltanbazar area. At least five persons including the officer in-charge of city’s Panbazar police station and his PSO were injured in the explosion. Two other grenades were exploded at busy Paltan Bazar and on the RG Baruah Road in the city. The injured included three CRPF personnel on duty on RG Baruah Road. Another policeman was killed during a fierce gun-battle with a group of Ulfa militants in the Dhansiri area in Upper Assam.
In view of Ulfa militants beginning to target oil installations in the state, security agencies were forced to beef up security of oil companies’ offices and assets. A blast in front of IOCL-owned Guwahati Refiner killed one person and injured ten others including eight CISF personnel on Thursday night. A gas pipeline of Assam Gas Company Limited (AGCL) was blown off by the ultras inside the Rongali reserve forest at Moran in Dibrugarh district of Upper Assam late Friday night.
Assam police has asked public sector oil companies in Assam to cooperate with police. Police directive to oil companies is construed as a fallout of Rs 500 crore extortion demand by the extremists from the navaratna Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGCL), which produces about 1.6 million tons of crude oil per year from its oil fields in the state.
A high-level meeting between the state police and the security agencies involved in the counter-insurgency operations in Assam yesterday took serious note of Ulfa’s attempt to disrupt operations of oil sector and emphasised on the need for taking adequate precautionary measures in view of threat. It happened to be second high-level oil security coordination committee meeting in three days.
Representatives of oil companies were asked to immediately inform police if they received any threat to their men and property from militant outfits.