Indian death toll rises after series of blasts

Senior officials say 48 people are dead and more than 300 injured following 13 serial blasts that ripped through cities across India’s north-eastern state of Assam.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the blasts. The region is torn by dozens of militant separatist groups that have long fought the government and one another.

Senior state official Subhash Das says 25 people died in the state capital of Gauhati. Eleven were killed Kokrajhar district and 12 more died in the town of Barpeta.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene of a blast in Gauhati said flames were leaping from charred cars, bodies were strewn across the road and a thick stream of black smoke was rising above the city.

Television footage showed firefighters spraying streams of water at charred, twisted cars and motorcycles that littered the blackened road.

Bystanders dragged the wounded and dead to cars that took them to hospitals, while police officers covered the burned remains of the dead with white sheets, leaving them in the street.

At least one explosion took place a few hundred metres from the secretariat, the building that houses the offices of the chief minister, the state’s top elected official.

NI Hussain, Gauhati’s deputy inspector general of police told the CNN-IBN news channel that police in the state were on high alert and searching for more unexploded bombs.

“Police have intensified the search for more bombs. There may be more blasts. You never know,” he said.

Worst hit outside of Gauhati was the Kokrajhar district, some 155 miles west of the capital, where at least 10 people were killed, police said.

Dozens of militant separatist groups are active in India’s north-east, an isolated region wedged between Bangladesh, Bhutan, China and Burma with only a thin corridor connecting it to the rest of India.

The separatists accuse the central government in New Delhi, 1,000 miles to the west, of exploiting the region’s natural resources while doing little for the indigenous people – most of whom are ethnically closer to Burma and China than to the rest of India.

More than 10,000 people have died in separatist violence over the past decade in the region.

India has also blamed several previous serial attacks in India on Islamic militants from nearby Bangladesh.

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