GUAHATI, India: Two time bombs planted by tribal militants exploded in a marketplace in India’s northern state of Assam Tuesday, killing at least 18 people and injuring 61, police said.

It was the bloodiest attack by extremists of Assams Bodo tribe since they turned two months ago. to sabotage and armed attacks on security forces in their campaign for independence that has claimed more than 60 lives.

The unrest forced the Assam government three weeks ago to call in the army for help in containing the militants.

A.B. Khandker, the senior police officer for the state on India’s northeastern fringe, said Bodo activists set two bombs about 500 feet apart in the main marketplace of Bongaigaon, 130 miles northeast of the capital of Guahati.

The devices exploded as hundreds of shoppers thronged the market, hurling shrapnel and debris over a 2,000 square foot area, he said.

At least 18 people were killed and 61 injured, many of them hospitalized in serious condition, Khandker said.

Police cornered off the market and searched for the bombers.

No further details were available.

Bongaigaon, a town of about 200,000 people is in the state’s plains area, home to most of the 4 million strong Bodo tribe.

Bodo activists began agitating for their own state within India to be known as “Bodoland” in 1967, contending that Assam’s governments did nothing to stem the migration into the plains region of Bengali speaking Moslems and Assamese Hindus, threatening the tribe’s culture and language.

The campaign led by the All Bodo Students Union picked up steam after the Assam People’s party took power in December 1985 when it defeated Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress (1) Party in state Assembly elections.

Article extracted from this publication >>  March 24, 1989