India bomb blast targets festival in Imphal, Manipur

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A bomb has exploded in a crowded area in the north-eastern Indian state of Manipur, police say.

The blast took place in the state capital, Imphal. Police said one person, thought to be carrying the bomb, was killed.

It went off at around 1100 local time [0530GMT] at the entrance to a ground where a festival was being held.

Many foreigners from Thailand, Malaysia and other south-east Asian countries are taking part in the festival.

Blockades

The bomb was attached to a rickshaw parked near the gate, the Press Trust of India quoted officials as saying.

Police spokesman A Singh told Agence France-Presse: "We suspect the person who died is the one who carried the bomb, concealed in a sack to plant at the festival."

There has been no confirmation of any injuries.

The site of the blast is close to a convention centre which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is due to inaugurate during his visit to the city on Saturday.

Blockade in Manipur Tension has been high in Manipur, with blockades of the region

It is not known who carried out the attack but officials say they suspect militants of the Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) are behind it.

The party, one of several separatist groups in Manipur, is said to have been behind a series of deadly explosions and attacks on security forces in the past.

A faction of the KCP has called a 72-hour general strike in Manipur, which ends on Thursday morning, to protest against a prolonged economic blockade.

A three-month blockade of roads into Manipur by the Naga tribal group was lifted temporarily on Tuesday ahead of the prime minister's visit.

The Nagas had blocked two key highways linking Manipur with the rest of India in protest against the demand for a new district by the rival Kuki tribe.

The Kukis called off their own 92-day blockade earlier this month after the government agreed to their demand.

The blockades have led to shortages of food, fuel and medical supplies.

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