30 Killed in Northeast Violence in India

The Associated Press
Sunday, August 12, 2007; 2:57 AM

GAUHATI, India -- Suspected rebels killed four Hindi-speaking migrant workers before dawn Sunday and three more bodies were found from an earlier killing in India's insurgency-wracked northeast, police said, bringing the death toll from a week of violence to 30.

"About six militants armed with assault rifles arrived in the village of Romgmong Ghat, barged into two houses and shot four people dead after dragging them out early Sunday," said L.R. Bishnoi, a senior police officer in Assam state.

Also, police carrying out searches near the site where gunmen fatally shot 11 migrant workers late Friday found three more bodies, bringing the toll to 14, Bishnoi said Sunday.

Militants often target migrants, who are resented as outsiders representing the federal government far away in New Delhi. The militants say New Delhi, 1,000 miles to the west, exploits the northeast's rich natural resources while doing little for the indigenous people, most of them ethnically closer to Burma and China than to the rest of India.

Late Friday, a group of gunmen armed with assault rifles entered a village inhabited by mostly Hindi-speaking migrants from other parts of India and opened fire, Bishnoi said.

"They barged into two houses and opened fire at random," he said. The attack occurred in Dolamora village, some 155 miles east of Gauhati, Assam's capital.

Also Friday, militants threw a hand grenade from a moving car into a crowded market, killing a 2-year-old girl and wounding seven others, including the girl's mother, Bishnoi said. A bomb exploded in a market wounding 13 people, including two policemen, he said.

Both explosions occurred in the Karbi district, 185 miles southeast of Gauhati.

Of the 30 killed in the past week, 26 have been migrants from other parts of the country. Representatives of the migrants complained that not enough was being done to protect them.

"The local government promised our community security, but it has failed us miserably. You should take immediate steps (to protect us)" Parshuram Dubey, a leader of the Bihar migrants, wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi vowed to stop the killings after touring the site of the attacks Saturday.

"We won't remain silent spectators," he said. "We shall hunt down the killers."

Police have blamed the violence on the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom and the Karbi Longri National Liberation Front.

The ULFA has been fighting for an independent homeland since 1979, while the KLNLF, active in southern Assam, are fighting for more autonomy for the region's Karbi tribes. Police believe the groups have been acting together.

Authorities say militants have stepped up violence ahead of Aug. 15 celebrations of India's independence from Britain in 1947.

© 2007 The Associated Press