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Assam blasts: Police arrest exiled Bhutan leader

Assam blasts: Police arrest exiled Bhutan leader

Tenzing G Zangpo, general secretary of the Druk National Congress of Bhutan.

Guwahati: Police arrested a senior Bhutanese refugee leader on Wednesday in connection with bomb attacks in Assam that killed 86 people last month.

Tenzing G Zangpo, general secretary of the Druk National Congress (DNC) of Bhutan, was arrested along with a senior leader of separatist Indian group, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), from Guwahati.

Identifying those behind the October 30 blasts has been difficult in a region riddled with several long-running armed insurgencies complicated by backing from Islamist groups based in neighbouring Bangladesh.

"Zangpo has been sent to police custody for 10 days for interrogation," a senior police officer, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.

Zangpo's party, banned in Bhutan, represents thousands of Bhutanese of Nepali origin who fled to Nepal after being persecuted in Bhutan for demanding democracy.

The DNC moved to distance itself from Zangpo. "Druk National Congress has nothing to do with his personal activities. His personal activities are neither shared with the party nor approved by the party," another general secretary of the DNC, told Reuters by phone from Nepal.

Police said the other arrested rebel leader was the "home secretary" of the NDFB, a tribal outfit fighting for an independent homeland for the Bodo tribespeople in Assam.

The NDFB and a splinter group of the United Liberation Force of Asom (ULFA) -- both known to have bases inside Bangladesh and Bhutan -- have signed ceasefire deals with New Delhi.

In 2003, Bhutan used its military to flush out NDFB and ULFA militants from its territory after prompting from India.

first published:November 12, 2008, 23:48 IST