Government official says Maoist rebels kill at least 40 paramilitary soldiers in eastern India

By Indrajit Singh, AP
Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Maoist rebels kill 40 troops in eastern India

PATNA, India — A senior government official says Maoist rebels have killed at least 40 paramilitary soldiers in attacks in the eastern Indian state of Chhattisgarh. The assaults mark the most casualties against government troops since they launched an offensive against the rebels last year.

Raman Singh, the chief minister of the state, told Sadhna television channel that at least 120 troops were part of a patrol party that came under attack in the rebel stronghold of Dantewada early Tuesday.

He said at least 40 of them were killed. He gave no other details.

A senior police official, who declined to be identified because he was not allowed to speak to reporters, said the troops were killed in at least two attacks.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

PATNA, India (AP) — Suspected Maoist rebels killed at least 20 paramilitary soldiers on Tuesday in attacks in the eastern Indian state of Chhattisgarh, police say.

Three soldiers were killed in an ambush in the rebel stronghold of Dantewada early Tuesday and 17 others were killed when their vehicle was blown up by a land mine, said a senior police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to reporters.

The troops killed in the blast were on their way to recover the bodies of those killed in the earlier attack, he said.

Few other details are available from the remote area.

“Fighting is still carrying on in the area, and we’re having great difficulty getting news from there,” said Ashok Dwivedi, an official at the police control room in state capital of Raipur.

In New Delhi, Home Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters the attacks showed “the brutality and the savagery” that the rebels were capable of.

The rebels, also known as Naxals or Naxalites, after Naxalbari, the village in West Bengal state where their movement was born in 1967, killed at least 24 police officers in West Bengal in a stunning attack on their camp in February.

Inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, the rebels have tapped into the rural poor’s growing anger at being left out of the country’s economic gains and are now present in 20 of the country’s 28 states. They have an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 fighters.

In the past few months, the Indian government has cracked down on the rebels, saying it was ready to discuss all their demands, but only if they gave up violence.

About 2,000 people — including police, militants and civilians — have been killed in violence over the past few years.

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