A tribal plantation worker holds a bow and arrow as he stands next to a burning house belonging to indigenous Bodo tribesmen after ethnic clashes in Balijuri village, in Sonitpur district in the northeastern Indian state of Assam December 24, 2014.Reuters File

The death toll in the Assam attack by National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) militants reached 79 after three more bodies were recovered in Assam's Kokrajhar district on Wednesday night, Hindustan Times reported.

Three more Adivasis were killed in police firing in Assam's Sonitpur district on Wednesday. The situation in parts of the districts became tense when Adivasis came out protesting against the militants' attack on Tuesday.

After 62 villagers died in Tuesday's militant attack, Adivasis killed at least five Bodos, two in Sonitpur and three in Chirang, in retaliation. Of the three Bodos killed in Chirang, two were beheaded by the Adivasis.

Following the on-going tension in parts of the state, night curfew was imposed in Kokrajhar, Chirang, Udalguri and Sonitpur districts. While Army helicopters have been deployed for aerial surveillance, 10 columns of Army have been in stationed in the affected areas of the four districts.

"Special area domination patrols have been deployed. Senior Army officers are supervising the operations and helping the civil administration and Assam Police," The Times of India quoted Defence PRO Lt Col S Newton as saying.

A policeman walks past injured tribal demonstrators after a clash during a protest at Dekiajuli town in the northeastern Indian state of Assam December 24, 2014. Police in northeast India fired on Wednesday on demonstrators protesting against the killings of dozens of people by tribal guerrillas, killing five of them.Reuters File

Home Minister Rajnath Singh meets Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, accompanied by Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju and Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram met Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Wednesday to discuss the law and order situation of the state.

After the meeting, Singh said the National Investigation Agency will investigate into the attack by NDFB and asked the security forces to treat the militants as terrorists.

"The Union home minister directed security forces to deal firmly with the outfit and treat it as a terrorist group," a TOI source said.

Gogoi said they are first focusing on controlling the violence in parts of the state and restoring peace. "Our immediate goal is to stop the violence. We are appealing to all sections of people to remain calm," Gogoi said.

However, 55 companies of paramilitary forces sent by the Centre along with state security forces are trying to track down the militants.

"We're going all-out against the militants. I had a discussion with the Prime Minister last night and the Centre has directed the Army to take out the militants. The Centre has also sent us 55 companies of paramilitary forces. The militants have taken shelters in Bhutan and Myanmar and Arunachal Pradesh," Gogoi said.

A woman belonging to the indigenous Bodo tribe, with her two children injured in an attack by tea garden workers, arrives at a hospital for treatment in Bongaigaon town in the northeastern Indian state of Assam December 24, 2014.Reuters File

The attack that killed 18 children

The NDFB militants launched an attack on the three districts of Assam – Kokrajhar, Sonitpur and Chirang – at 6:15 pm on 23 December, killing at least 21 women and 18 children, according to IANS.

The attack was reportedly in retaliation to Assam police's operation against the Bodos militants. The Assam police had on Sunday killed two Bodo militants and seized arms and ammunition from them. This enraged the NDFB militants, who had threatened retaliation. 

"The NDFB militants have targeted innocent people as they wanted a soft target to retaliate. It is barbaric and inhuman. They have killed minor children. There cannot be any justification for such killings," Gogoi said.

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