At least 26 dead in India train bombing
December 30, 1996
Web posted at: 8:45 p.m. EST (0145 GMT)
NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- Indian police said Monday that at least 26 bodies have been recovered after a bomb derailed an express train, and dozens more were injured.
Most of the passengers were believed to be vacationers heading for Delhi to celebrate the New Year. The train was carrying an estimated 1,200 passengers.
"It is a huge tragedy," said Tapan Das, a state official in Gauhati. "With New Year's celebrations, many people were keen to travel and they had taken the crowded train."
At least 50 injured were taken by rail to nearby hospitals. Early media reports said that the explosion and derailment of the express train had killed hundreds of people, but officials on the scene later said those reports were inaccurate.
South Asian analyst|
Sumit Ganguly describes
the Bodo militants
281K/24 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
Police in Kokrajhar said a bomb planted on the rails went off shortly after the New Delhi-bound Brahmaputra Express left Kokrajhar in the jungle terrain of Assam state. The train's engine and its first coach car were derailed by the blast, and the next three rail cars were severely damaged, an official said.
No one has claimed responsibility, though the separatist Bodo rebel faction was believed to be involved.
A senior police official in Assam's biggest city of Gauhati told Reuters he blamed separatist Bodo militants, saying they had used a remote-controlled device packed with explosives to blow up the train.
"The blast took place at 7:15 p.m., a few minutes after the train left the Kokrajhar station for New Delhi," police said.
Earlier, more than 5,000 trucks were stranded and road links severed between India's eastern states and the rest of the country after tribal rebels blasted a key bridge in Assam.
The bridge, about 125 miles (200 km) from Gauhati, links Assam and six other states to the rest of India.
Schism created rival factions
The Bodo tribe has been fighting for a separate homeland for 20 years. Its members claim that their culture is being undermined by Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh, who are drawn to the Brahmaputra River's rich farmlands.
However, the Bodos recently split, and police said the rival Bodo factions may be vying to prove their strength.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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