Update as of 7:00 a.m. EST: The death toll in the militant attacks in the Indian state of Assam has crossed 65, according to local media reports. "The death toll is likely to go up with more bodies being recovered," a spokesperson for the state's police reportedly said, adding that over 250 people are still unaccounted for.
Violence has also broken out in a number of districts in the state after villagers burned down houses, allegedly belonging to people of the Bodo community, and attacked police stations. Three people were also killed when police opened fire at protesters in Sonitpur district, according to local media reports.
At least 50 people, including over 13 children, were killed when militants belonging to the banned National Democratic Front of Bodoland opened fire on tribals in the Indian state of Assam on Tuesday evening, according to media reports. The militants, who targeted four different locations across two districts in the remote northeastern state, reportedly escaped after the attacks.
“Indefinite curfew has been clamped in the areas in the jurisdiction of Dhekiajuli, Thelamara, Rangapara and Biswanath Chariali police stations,” Lalit Gogoi, a senior police official, reportedly said, referring to the four locations hit by the militants. Assam’s Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi also said that the army and paramilitary forces had been called in to assist in the manhunt and to maintain peace in the region.
The Bodos, who constitute one of the largest tribal communities from a total of 34 tribes in Assam, have clashed frequently with security forces over demands for greater political autonomy and a separate state named Bodoland.
The National Democratic Front of Bodoland, which has been declared a terrorist outfit by the Indian government, was also implicated in an earlier attack in May targeting Bengali-speaking Muslims in the region. Over 40 people were believed to have been killed in the attack.
The latest attacks are believed to be motivated by revenge, a police official said, according to local media reports, after two militants of the group were reportedly killed by Assam police on Sunday -- the latest in a series of crackdowns by the state’s security forces.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with President Pranab Mukherjee also condemned the attacks, terming the killings an “act of cowardice.”
I spoke to Assam CM Shri Tarun Gogoi & Home Minister Rajnath ji. Rajnath ji will travel to Assam and take stock of the situation.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 23, 2014