Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bodies of 5 policemen killed by rebels found in central India

New Delhi - Bodies of five Indian policemen were found in Dantewada district of central Chhattisgarh state on Thursday near the place where their patrol was ambushed by a Maoist rebel group the day before, news reports said quoting police sources. Seven policemen from the patrol were still missing and a search for them was continuing, PTI news agency reported.

The policemen were part of a larger group of about 40 agents who were clearing a jungle road the rebels had blocked with felled trees in a remote forested area of Dantewada district, about 500 kilometres south of state capital Raipur, IANS news agency quoted senior police official Girdhari Nayak as saying.

"The gun battle broke out when two separate police platoons numbering 40 cops went to the thick forested area of Tadmetla for road opening. Fire-fighting began when rebels attacked one of the search teams from behind, injuring six cops," Nayak said.

Nayak said 28 policemen returned to the camp in batches after the gun battle, many of them with bullet injuries.

Twenty-four policemen were killed in the same district in a similar battle with Maoist rebels on July 9.

The guerrillas operate in 13 of India's 29 states along a "red corridor" stretching from the India-Nepal border in the north to the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

Maoists claim to be fighting for the rights of the rural poor and landless labourers. Their usual targets are police patrols and government installations.

Thousands of people have been killed in the insurgency, which began in the late 1960s. A total of 555 civilians and security personnel have been killed by the rebels in the first six months of 2007 alone, according to the latest federal Home Ministry figures.

Chhattisgarh is one of the worst-affected by Maoist violence. At least 45 per cent of the 971 incidents involving leftist rebels since January have occurred in the state.

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