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Soldiers killed in rebel attack

Suspected separatist rebels have triggered a land mine explosion that killed at least four paramilitary soldiers and injured 25 others in India's remote north-eastern state of Assam, police said.

The soldiers were travelling in two buses when the militants used a remote control device to trigger the explosion, said Luis Aind, district superintendent of police.

The blast occurred near the town of Goalpara, about 125 miles west of the state capital, Gauhati.

Four soldiers were killed instantly, Mr Aind said. The wounded soldiers, some of them with critical injuries, were taken to a nearby hospital.

It was not immediately clear if both the buses were hit by the explosion, said Mr Aind, speaking by telephone from Goalpara.

Initial investigations indicate that the rebels belonged to a faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, an insurgent group that has been fighting for independence from India since 1986, Mr Aind said.

The movement's leader, Ranjan Daimary, was handed over to Indian authorities by the Bangladesh government in May. He is in jail awaiting trial in Goalpara.

More than 30 north-eastern separatist groups have fought for decades for independence from India or greater autonomy in Assam, about 1,000 miles east of the capital, New Delhi.

The militants say the Indian government exploits the region's rich natural resources while neglecting the development of the region.

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