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Last Updated: Monday, 25 December 2006, 07:25 GMT
Army plan for India city peace
By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

Bomb blast in Guwahati, Assam
Violence in Assam has increased since September
Authorities in India's north-eastern state of Assam say they are planning to deploy soldiers in the capital Guwahati after a series of blasts in the city.

There have been several bomb and grenade attacks - killing more than 20 people - in Guwahati since September.

Officials say militants of the United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa) were likely to be behind the attack.

The separatist group had been fighting Delhi's rule in the tea and oil-rich state for the past 27 years.

We apprehend a surge in rebel violence
Khagen Sarmah, Assam intelligence chief

The proposal to deploy the army came up on Sunday during a meeting of the Unified Command, a body that includes representatives of the state administration and the police, the army and the federal para-military forces active in Assam.

The Unified Command was formed in the late 1990s to coordinate counter-insurgency operations in Assam, a model later replicated in the troubled northern state of Kashmir.

Though the army is deployed in most districts of Assam affected by separatist violence, the security of the state capital, Guwahati, has so far been handled by the Assam police.

"But there has been a series of explosions in Guwahati (...) and there's a feeling that there could be more trouble in days to come," said Assam police intelligence chief Khagen Sarmah.

Doubts

Mr Sarmah blamed the Ulfa for bomb explosions in the state since peace talks collapsed in September and operations against the rebels resumed.

The Ulfa has called for a boycott of the Indian National Games due in Assam in February.

The group also called for boycott of Indian Republic Day celebrations on 26 January.

"We apprehend a surge in rebel violence ahead of these events," said Mr Sarmah.

But opinion is divided on whether deploying the army would help curb the violence.

Correspondents say the troops deployments in Guwahati is likely to be opposed by Assamese human rights groups and regional political parties who have been calling for the resumption of peace talks and an end to military operations.


SEE ALSO
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Bomb explosions kill 15 in Assam
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What hopes for peace in Assam?
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Two killed in India grenade blast
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