From .............. Associated Press

December 25, 1996

GAUHATI, India (AP) -- A powerful bomb exploded in a remote northeastern state today, killing three members of a politician's family and wounding two others returning from Christmas mass.

At least 20 other people were injured when the bomb went off in a car parked on the road in Arai Mile in Nagaland state.

The bomb in the abandoned car apparently was triggered by a remote control device, said state chief minister S.C. Jamir.

The explosion killed the wife, daughter and grandson of the state industry minister K. Hollohon as they were returning home from church after Christmas prayers, he said. The area is 217 miles east of Gauhati, near Burma.

The blast wounded another grandson and son-in-law, Jamir said in a telephone interview. Hollohon was in another car and escaped unhurt.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion, but Jamir blamed the outlawed separatist outfit, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland.

"When the whole world is celebrating Christmas, the rebels are killing people here. This is a complete negation of Christian values," Jamir said.

Nagaland's 600,000 people are almost all Christian.

The guerrilla organization is among the one dozen such outfits that want Nagaland to break away from India because of alleged discrimination against them by the federal government in New Delhi.

More than 1,000 people have died since the rebel groups began bush wars in 1957, claiming Nagaland was forcibly integrated with India when British rulers carved out India and Pakistan in 1947.