Guwahati: Five people were killed in a suspected militant attack by United Liberation Front of Assam (Independent) in Tinsukia district on Thursday evening. Police said the incident took place at Kherabari area, near Dhola-Sadiya bridge under Sadiya assembly constituency of Upper Assam, around 7.45 pm.

Sources said that six young men were abducted by unidentified gunmen and were later shot near Brahmaputra river. Four people died on the spot and one succumbed to injuries on the way to the hospital. Another injured person was rushed to the hospital. 

The youths were reportedly sitting in a shop near Sadiya town when the cadres of the proscribed outfit picked them up and took them to the banks of the Brahmaputra river. The deceased persons have been identified as Subal Das, Shyamol Biswas, Abinash Biswas, Ananta Biswas and Dhananjoy Namasudra.

Assam police ADGP Mukesh Agarwala said that suspected Ulfa (I) militants were behind the attack.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal condemned "the killing of innocent people" and conveyed his sympathy to the bereaved families. "Strong action will be taken against the perpetrators of this dastardly violence. We will not tolerate such cowardly act," he told PTI.

Sonowal said he has directed state ministers Keshav Mahanta and Tapan Gogoi along with DGP Kuladhar Saikia to rush to the spot. "We will not spare the culprits for the killings," he said.

The chief minister appealed to the people of Assam to maintain peace and harmony.

The killings come weeks after a low-intensity bomb blast in Guwahati on October 13 to protest against the Centre’s bid to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. Four people, including a woman, were injured in the blast.

Sources said these killings could be linked to NRC as the victims are Bengalis. Some ven said that the murders are fallout of the growing rift between Bengali and Assamese people in the state, following the Centre’s move of implementing NRC.

Home minister Rajnath Singh on Twitter said, "Deeply anguished by civilian casualties in an attack in Upper Assam region. It is a reprehensible act of mindless violence. Spoke to Assam CM Shri @sarbanandsonwal regarding the incident and asked him to take strict possible action against the perpetrators of this heinous crime."

Condemning the killings in tweets, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee linked it to the National Register of Citizens in Assam. 

“Terrible news coming out of Assam. We strongly condemn the brutal attack in Tinsukia. Is this the outcome of recent NRC development?” she asked. “We have no words to express our deep sorrow to the grieving families. The perpetrators must be punished at the very earliest,” she added.

(With agency inputs)