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At least 26 dead, many injured in twin explosions in India

At least 26 dead, many injured in twin explosions in India

Associated Press

GAUHATI, India - Two powerful bombs exploded minutes apart at a crowded railroad station and a market in India's northeastern state of Nagaland on Saturday, killing 26 people and injuring 84, the state government head said.

The first blast occurred in the railway station in Dimapur, Nagaland's commercial hub, and was followed soon after by a powerful explosion just as shopkeepers were opening up for business in the city's popular "Hong Kong" market, said C. Kuki, an inspector in the police control room.

Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, the state's top elected official, told The Associated Press after a visit to the site that the death toll had risen to 26 and that 84 people had been injured.

"We cannot say who is responsible. It is still too early," he said by telephone from the state capital, Kohima.

No group had claimed responsibility, police said. Nagaland has two main separatist groups that are fighting for a separate Naga homeland.

When the market blast occurred, "there weren't too many shoppers around or the toll would have been much higher," Kuki said.

The blast in the railway station occurred shortly before a train was to arrive from neighboring Assam state and the main platform was crowded with passengers awaiting the train, said C. Yanthan, a railway official. He said the injured had been taken to hospitals across Dimapur.

The Indian government has been engaged in peace negotiations with one faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), headed by Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah, since signing a cease-fire agreement in 1997.

There is also a cease-fire agreement with the rival NSCN faction, headed by S.S. Khaplang, but no formal talks have been initiated with it.

More than 15,000 people died in the Nagaland conflict before the government and rebels agreed to the August 1997 cease-fire.

Copyright © 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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