Guwahati: At least 40 people were killed when Bodo militants fired indiscriminately at villagers in Assam’s Kokrajhar and Sonitpur districts, police said.
An Assam Police spokesman confirmed that 40 people, including four women, were killed in four incidents of firing by cadres of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) faction opposed to peace talks.
The attacks began around 6.15 p.m. Tuesday, almost simultaneously.
The first attack took place at Pakhiriguri in Kokrajhar district of the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD), where the militants killed four people and injured four.
In another attack at Ultapani, in the same district, they killed three people.
Police said 27 people were killed in Maitalubosti in Sonitpur district. The rebels also attacked Jungle Bosti village in the same district, killing six people.
“The toll is likely to increase as there are reports of more bodies being recovered from all the violence-affected areas,” a senior police official said.
Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) S.N. Singh said the NDFB faction opposed to peace talks was behind the incident.
The militants attacked the villages as a response to the intensified operation by the security forces, he said.
A joint team of Assam Police commandos and the army had Sunday killed two Bodo militants in neighbouring Chirang district, close to the Bhutan border.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi Tuesday said termed the attack a cowardly act of the militants and said his government will not bow down to any militant threat.
The killing of unarmed civilians by Bodo militants in Assam “is highly condemnable and shows contempt for human lives”, Amnesty International India said Wednesday.
“The men, women and children killed and injured in these attacks were mostly members of the adivasi community who traditionally work in the tea gardens of the region,” it said.
“It is the fundamental right of every person to live free from violence and discrimination. Authorities in Assam must take action to protect the rights of all communities and bring those responsible for the attacks to justice,” Amnesty said.
The CPI-M on Wednesday urged the government to take “firm action” and dismantle Bodo militants after they massacred over 40 tribals, including women and children.
“Firm action should be taken to curb and dismantle the NDFB extremist group,” the Communist Party of India-Marxist said, referring to the National Democratic Front of Bodoland.
“It is the responsibility of the Assam government and the (central government) to ensure the safety and protection of non-Bodo communities in the BTAD (Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District) area.”