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Indian PM escapes bomb plot (BBC Ne

Subject: Indian PM escapes bomb plot (BBC News)

World: South Asia (BBC News)

             Indian PM escapes bomb plot 

             The bomb went off in Imphal just before the prime minister's

             The Indian prime minister had a narrow escape when
             authorities discovered a powerful time bomb at an
             airport, minutes before his plane was due to land. 

             The bomb was discovered outside the airport in Imphal,
             the capital of Manipur state. 

             It was placed on the route the prime minister Atal Behari
             Vajpayee's convoy was to have taken into the city. 

             Our correspondent in Calcutta, Subir Bhaumik, says the
             discovery created panic in Imphal because it closely
             followed an explosion a few hours earlier in the central
             district of Bishenpur. 

             The explosion missed an army convoy but damaged a
             bridge on the convoy route. Shots were exchanged
             between soldiers and rebels, but no-one was injured. 

             Rebel campaign 

             A rebel coalition, the Manipur People's Liberation front,
             claimed responsibility for both attacks. It is a group
             comprising three separatist organisations fighting for the
             state's independence from India. 

             Correspondents say there are up to seven separatist
             groups operating in Manipur, a remote state on the
             Burmese border. 

                                 The rebels had called on the
                                 local community to boycott
                                 all official ceremonies
                                 organised around Mr
                                 Vajpayee's visit, to draw
                                 attention to atrocities
                                 allegedly committed by
                                 Indian security forces during

                                 India has a heavy army and
                                 paramilitary presence in the
                                 region and reports say that
             security was tight during the visit. 

             Thousands of people are reported to have died in
             separatist campaigns in Manipur, a former princely state
             which merged with India exactly 50 years ago. 

             Manipur has also witnessed violence between ethnic
             communities within the state, leading to tribal clashes
             and killings. Illicit drug smuggling and gun-running trades
             with Burma are a growing feature in the region.