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Police Raid Sikh Hideouts

June 22, 1988

AMRITSAR, India (AP) _ Police raided the hideouts of suspected Sikh extremists in Punjab state today, a day after radicals were blamed for a bombing that killed at least 29 people near the Golden Temple.

Initial reports placed the death toll at 15, but it rose through the night and into today as seriously injured victims died, police said.

More than 40 people were injured Tuesday in the blast near Sikhism’s holiest shrine in this city and 12 were reported in critical condition at local hospitals.

The old walled city of Amritsar and several other neighborhoods were under an indefinite curfew, which required citizens to stay off the street.

The curfew was ordered after mobs gathered Tuesday night and blocked police from the bomb site.

Sarabjeet Singh, deputy commissioner for Amritsar District, described the city as ″tense but under control.″

There was little activity in other parts of Amritsar as most people observed a strike called to protest the bombing, the third in as many days in northern India.

On Monday, four people were killed and 40 injured when a bomb went off in a crowded vegetable market in New Delhi. A day earlier, 18 people were killed and 33 injured when a bomb exploded as they were watching a television show at an electronics shop in Haryana state.

Most of the victims were Hindus.

The United News of India said that six people were killed overnight in Punjab in attacks blamed on Sikh extremists. The victims included four people pulled out of a car and shot to death in Sangrur District in the southern part of the state.

The latest killings raised to more than 1,360 the number of people killed in Punjab by the radicals since the start of the year. At least 55 other people have died this year in attacks by Sikh extremists in neighboring states.

The bombings were blamed on the Barbar Khalsa gang, one of a dozen Sikh extremist groups operating in Punjab. The radicals have been waging a guerrilla war since 1982 for an independent homeland in Punjab.

A.A. Siddiqui, a deputy inspector general of Punjab police, said that law enforcement officials had launched a massive operation aimed at suspected Barbar Khalsa hideouts.

The bomb exploded at about 6:45 p.m. Tuesday in a crowded Hindu wholesale market in Katra Ahluwalia Chowk, a neighborhood about 200 yards from the Golden Temple.

Sikhs, whose religion was formed about 500 years ago as an alternative to Hinduism and Islam, claim they are discriminated against by India’s majority Hindus.

Sikhs make up less than 2 percent of India’s 800 million people but are a majority in Punjab.