Indian Separatist Militants Kill Two Bhutanese Nationals

Published December 21st, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Indian separatist militants have shot dead two Bhutanese nationals and wounded 16 others in the northeastern Indian state of Assam close to the Bhutanese border, police said Thursday. 

A police spokesman said heavily armed militants on Wednesday ambushed a crowded bus owned by the Bhutanese government near Badiaguri, 250 kilometers (155 miles) west of the state capital Guwahati. 

"Militants of the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) stopped the bus and fired indiscriminately on the passengers, resulting in the death of two Bhutanese nationals", G.M. Srivastava, additional police chief of Assam told AFP. 

The victims were the driver and a 14-year-old girl. 

In another incident nearby, NDFB militants stopped a Bhutanese police van carrying rations and set it ablaze. 

One more private vehicle was also set on fire in the same area. No one was injured in the two incidents. 

Bhutanese vehicles often traverse sections of Assam when travelling between different places inside the land-locked kingdom. 

Police said the outlawed NDFB, fighting for an independent tribal homeland, could have carried out the attacks to warn the Bhutanese government against launching an offensive against their bases inside Bhutan. 

"A few days ago Bhutanese police seized rations meant for the militants and that could be the reason for retaliation," the police official said. 

The NDFB and the outlawed United Liberation Front of Assam have been operating out of Bhutan over the past three years, staging hit-and-run guerrilla strikes in Assam. 

Indian authorities estimate that more than 4,000-armed rebels are operating from Bhutan -- GUWAHATI, India (AFP) 



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