Nine Bhutanese Nationals Massacred in Northeastern India

Published December 22nd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Tribal separatist guerrillas Friday shot dead nine Bhutanese nationals and a Nepalese in the northeastern Indian state of Assam close to the Bhutanese border, the police here said. 

More than a dozen guerrillas shot the Bhutanese while they were shopping in a village market in Assam state's western Barpeta district, 180 kilometers (112 miles) west from the state capital of Guwahati, the police said. 

A Nepalese shopper was also fatally hit by stray bullets during the attack, which occurred early Friday in Barpeta's Lakhibazar village, a police spokesman said. 

The village is some seven kilometers (4.3 miles) from the India-Bhutan borders. 

So far none of Assam's several separatist organizations have accepted responsibility for the latest killings of Bhutanese nationals in the troubled region. 

The state police, however, blamed the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), which is fighting for an independent tribal homeland in Assam, for the massacre. 

NDFB guerrillas on Wednesday ambushed a crowded bus owned by the Bhutanese government near Badiaguri, 250 kilometers (155 miles) west of Guwahati and shot dead two Bhutanese nationals. 

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

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

Police say the NDFB have been carrying out the attacks to warn the Bhutanese government against launching an offensive against their bases inside Bhutan. 

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 oil-rich Assam. 

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



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