NEW DELHI – Suspected members of a separatist rebel group in India's remote northeast gunned down at least 27 people in four separate attacks in Assam state on Tuesday, police said.
An official at the police control room in state capital Gauhati said the victims of Tuesday's attacks were Adivasi or tribal settlers in the region.
While some television stations reported death tolls as high as 40, police could not immediately confirm that number. The official at the control room, who requested anonymity because he was not allowed to talk to reporters, said news was still trickling in from the remote area.
The rebels likely belonged to the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, which has been fighting for a separate homeland for ethnic Bodo people for decades. The Bodos are an indigenous tribe in Assam, making up 10 percent of the state's 33 million people.
The attacks took place in Assam state's Kokrajhar and Sonitpur districts. The rebels were armed with automatic weapons, police said.
Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh said via Twitter that the federal government was monitoring the situation and had rushed paramilitary troops to the area.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also condemned the violence.
Dozens of rebel groups have been fighting the government and sometimes each other for years in seven states in northeast India. They demand greater regional autonomy or independent homelands for the indigenous groups they represent.
The rebels accuse the federal government of exploiting the region's rich mineral resources but neglecting the local people.
At least 10,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in Assam state alone in the last three decades.
In May rebels from the same group had shot and killed more than 30 Muslim settlers in the region.