Guwahati/New Delhi, May 3 (IANS) The toll in the twin terror attacks in Assam Saturday rose to 27, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh describing it as a "cowardly attempt to spread fear and terror".
Seven more bodies were recovered Saturday as curfew continued in three Bodo-majority Kokrajhar, Baksa and Chirang districts, officials said.
Curfew was imposed after violence broke out Thursday night and shoot-at-sight orders were issued to bring the situation under control.
Manmohan Singh said that the "attacks are cowardly attempts to spread fear and terror among our citizens".
"The government stands committed to fighting terror in all its forms," he said in a statement.
He added that his heart reaches out and grieves for all those who lost their near and dear ones and other affected people.
Violence erupted in the Bodoland Territorial Areas Districts (BTAD) Thursday night when armed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) cadres opened indiscriminate fire in two villages, killing five people. The second attack took place in Kokrajhar district Friday that left eight people, including children, dead.
The violence has also led people abandoning their homes and taking shelter in relief camps set up by district administrations. There were also reports that the militants had torched several homes.
The prime minister said that the "people of Assam have been braving terrorist attacks with courage and fortitude in the past. They have voted in large numbers in the polling for the general elections and I am confident they will continue to fight terror resolutely".
The staggered elections in Assam for its 14 parliamentary constituencies took place April 7, 12 and 24.
Singh urged the people to remain calm, ignore rumours and carry on with their activities normally.
He also spoke to the chief minister and the home minister, directing them to restore normalcy.
Home Commissioner G.D. Tripathy told IANS: "Today (Saturday) morning, seven bodies were recovered from Salbari area in Baksa district."
"Armed assailants belonging to the NDFB anti-talk faction attacked two villages in Salbari area near the Manas National Park. Seven bodies have been recovered Friday night, seven more were recovered today (Saturday) morning," he said.
The victims included women and children, the home commissioner added.
"The situation appears normal as of now as there has not been any fresh incident of violence since yesterday (Friday) evening," said Tripathy.
He said 10 companies of central paramilitary forces have arrived in the state and the army was assisting police in containing the situation. The army had carried out flag march in Kokrajhar and Baksa districts.
There were conflicting views on what caused the violence.
Police suspect the attacks were in retaliation for the ongoing anti-insurgency operation by the security forces in the BTAD region, where some NDFB militants have been killed recently.
However, media reports Saturday said the violence could be linked to the voting pattern in the general elections.
In one of the worst riots between Bodos and Bengali-speaking Muslim settlers in BTAD in 2012, over 100 people were killed and more than four lakh were displaced.
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