Shillong: Seven people were injured in a bomb explosion at a crowded market in Tura in Meghalaya`s West Garo Hills district, forcing authorities to sound an alert across the state, police said.
"We have sounded general alert across the state following the explosion at a bakery shop," Dalton P Marak, the police chief of West Garo Hills district, said.
The explosion took place at 6.45 pm when unidentified people lobbed the crude bomb from a moving vehicle at the bakery shop in Tura market, injuring seven people, Marak said.
Of the seven injured persons, four have been admitted in a government-run hospital, while the three were released after receiving first aid, the police official said.
"The blast is mainly to create fear psychosis in the minds of the people. We are still investigating into it and we are not ruling out the involvement of militant groups," Marak said.
Though, no militant groups have claimed responsibility for the blast, intelligence agencies suspected the involvement of the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), a rebel group operating in the region.
"It could be the handiwork of the GNLA militants to create fear psychosis and divert security agencies` attention in the wake of the combing operation against them," an intelligence official said.
Security forces launched a massive combing operation in Garo Hills to rescue a transport official and his driver who were kidnapped by GNLA rebels on September 30, even as their whereabouts are still unknown.
Five armed GNLA rebels kidnapped R Syngkon, district transport officer of East Garo Hills district, and his driver from his official residence in Williamnagar in west Meghalaya after he failed to meet their extortion demand of Rs 60 lakh.
The GNLA, headed by police officer-turned-rogue Champion R Sangma, who is fighting for a sovereign Garoland in western Meghalaya, is believed to have links with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).
With the outlawed A`chik National Volunteers Council (ANVC) on a ceasefire agreement with the central government, the NSCN (IM) and the ULFA spawned several militant groups with the main intention of exploiting the lucrative extortion in the coal-rich areas of the Garo Hills region.
Condemning the incident, former Lok Sabha speaker Purno A Sangma, the local legislator from Tura assembly constituency, asked the government to immediately find out the perpetrators and bring them to book.