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Friday, June 09, 2006

Twenty wounded by rebel attacks in India's Assam

GUWAHATI, India, June 9 (Reuters) - At least 20 people, including several policemen, were wounded in a series of grenade attacks by suspected rebels in India's restive northeastern state of Assam, a senior police officer said on Friday.

Grenades were hurled at crowded markets, police stations and security patrol vehicles almost simultaneously in different parts of the tea- and oil-rich state late on Thursday.

The attacks came soon after it was announced a third round of talks between New Delhi and representatives of the region's most powerful rebel group -- the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) -- would be held on June 22.

The ULFA has fought a war for the secession of Assam from India for more than 25 years, accusing New Delhi of neglecting the state's economy and taking away its rich natural resources.

Khagen Sharma, a senior police officer, told Reuters no group had claimed responsibility for the attacks but said it was most certainly the handiwork of the ULFA.

"We are not sure about their intentions," he added.

Seven states of the remote northeast are connected to India by a thread of land called the "chicken's neck". Apart from the ULFA, the region is also home to at least a dozen other insurgencies.
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