10/06/2004, 00.00
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Assam terrorists find support in neighbouring countries

Mumbai (AsiaNews) –Assam's state government acknowledged its powerlessness vis-à-vis the terrorist wave that recently swept over Assam and the neighbouring state of Nagaland leaving 50 people dead and about 100 injured.

According to Assam's Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi local separatist fighters at war with the Union government have links with neighbouring countries whose territories they use for safe refuge. Bangladesh and Myanmar are thought in fact to harbour militants of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), terrorist groups fighting for Assam's independence.

India's Home Minister Shivraj Patil who arrived in Assam after the latest violence stated that "a long term strategy has to be devised to combat terrorism in the state" adding that a "larger design" seemed to be behind the attacks since they might derail plans to revoke the very contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act in force in some north-eastern states. In these states the Act in question came under intense criticism for the abuses it led to under the guise of the anti-terrorism struggle.

Anti-terrorism experts are convinced that the latest attacks are part of a common strategy pursued by NDFB and ULFA. The two groups were thought to be in disarray after the Royal Bhutanese army expelled them in December 2003 from the southern jungles of the mountain kingdom.

Other observers point instead the finger at rogue intelligence operatives because of the extreme sophistication of the bombs and detonators used in the attacks. (NC)

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