Blast in Imphal ahead of PM visit

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  1. The Messiah

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    Blast in Imphal ahead of PM visit

    IMPHAL: A powerful bomb exploded at the palace compound on Wednesday morning, tearing a rickshaw-puller asunder and wounding four bystanders, sending the SPG here to oversee security arrangements for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's visit on December 3 into a tizzy.

    "The dead rickshawpuller, Mohammed Kora (51) of Irong Umang village in Thoubal district, was paid by rebels to carry the explosives laden packet inside the crowded Sangai Tourism Festival venue," said SSP (Imphal East) Clay Khongsai. The blast took place close to the high-security entrance to the venue. Security in the twin capital districts of Imphal West and Imphal East - which have witnessed frequent explosions in the past few weeks - has been bolstered.

    Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi will inaugurate several new projects in Imphal during their one-day visit, which include a new assembly building and the high court.

    "Minutes before the rickshaw puller died, he said some unknown people who called themselves KCP members paid him Rs 20 to deliver the packet inside the festival venue. We suspect KCP's hand in the explosion. Further investigation is on," said Clay.

    KCP is Kangleipak Communist Party and is one of at least a score of militant groups active in the state, with demands ranging from secession to greater autonomy for Manipur.

    Chief minister Ibobi Singh condemned the incident and warned that if such acts were repeated, the Centre may reimpose AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) in the seven assembly segments of Imphal city. AFSPA was revoked in the state in 2004.

    A number of foreigners, including some from South Korea, Thailand and South Africa, had put up stalls at the festival venue. A faction of KCP has called a 72-hour strike in protest against the four-month road blockade organized by contesting rebel groups, and which was revoked only two days ago.

    After inaugurating an auditorium of Manipur Film Development Corporation and assembly and high court buildings, the PM and UPA chairperson will address a public meeting at the historic Kangla Fort. Accompanied by Central government officials, they will land at Imphal airport on a special BSF aircraft at 10.30am and return to Delhi the same afternoon.

    After the blast, the flow of visitors thinned and many stalls were shut. However, the closing ceremony, attended by Manipur Governor Gurbachan Jagat, was held.

    Blast in Imphal ahead of PM visit, 1 killed - The Times of India
     
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