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Thirteen people were killed and over 20 critically injured when armed militants opened fire in a local market in Assam’s trouble-torn Kokrajhar district.  In a retaliatory operation by the army, a suspected militant of the banned National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Songbijit faction) was also killed in the incident, which took place at the busy Balajan weekly market, about 10 km from Kokrajhar town. 
According to official sources, 16 people are injured, while two of them suffered grievous injuries. A red alert has been issued across the state as this attack comes days before  Independence Day. The security has been increased along the Assam-Bhutan border in Kokrajhar district, the sources said. The modus operandi of Friday’s attack is similar to previous ones by the NDFB. Earlier, the group had targeted remote villages and people from the non-Bodo communities. 
This time the attack was pre-planned and the target location was a market where thousands of people from different communities come to trade. NDFB(S) has, however, denied any involvement in the attack.
According to police sources, the incident occurred between 11:30 am and noon. Three suspected NDFB(S) militants, wearing army fatigues and rain coats, came in an autorickshaw and started firing indiscriminately and lobbed grenades. 
“We have confirmed information that NDFB(S) militants are behind the attack. Three militants had boarded an auto from Simbergaon and travelled to Kokrajhar town. They asked the driver to stop when the auto reached the Balajan market. No sooner had they alighted from the auto, they opened fire. The driver has been apprehended and we are interrogating him,” said Assam Police IGP (Bodoland Territorial Area District ) L R Bishnoi.
An army patrol, which was in the vicinity, was the first to reach the market and immediately cordoned off the area.  “The swift action by the army troops has prevented indiscriminate killing of civilians in the crowded market place. Any delay would have resulted in extremely high casualties,” said Guwahati-based defence PRO Lt Col Suneet Newton.
The security forces have launched a massive combing operation, pressing into service special forces and tracker dogs. 
One AK-56, a Chinese-made hand grenade, two magazines and 49 rounds of AK-series ammunition were recovered from the slain militant. “We found a mobile phone from the slain militant, which was earlier used by a top NDFB commander. He was in touch with some top militants, who were neutralised in operations on July 16 and 24,” Bishnoi said.

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