South Asia News
India's Maoist rebels attack police stations, railway tracks
Jul 8, 2010, 11:01 GMT
New Delhi - Maoist rebels in India targeted police and railway stations and killed three people in a spate of attacks Thursday, news reports said.
The attacks came on the second day of a two-day strike called by the rebels in five states to protest the killing of their leader, Cherukuri Rajkumar, better known as Azad, in a clash with police in Andhra Pradesh state on Friday.
The rebels allege that police captured Azad and staged his death.
The rebels opened fire at Congress Party leader Avdesh Singh Gautam's house in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh state, killing a 15-year-old relative and an employee, and launched a simultaneous attack on a nearby police station, IANS news agency reported.
At least three rebels were killed by security personnel guarding Gautam's house and another rebel was shot dead by policemen at the adjoining Kuakonda police station, Chhattisgarh police chief Vishwa Ranjan was quoted as saying.
The rebels also opened fire early Thursday at least two other police stations in the Bastar, a 40,000-square-kilometre forested region of Chhattisgarh, known as a Maoist stronghold.
Traffic remained off the roads in parts of Chhattisgarh and Orissa where the Maoists felled trees and blocked roads.
In Jharkhand state, the rebels blew up a railway station and blasted rail tracks at two locations Thursday.
A police commando was killed in an exchange of fire with the rebels at Hehegaraha railway station, about 130 kilometres east of Jharkhand capital Ranchi.
More than a dozen trains were stranded due to the blasts, railways public relations officer Amrendra Das said.
The rebels also blew up two road bridges in the state's West Singhbhum district, the NDTV news channel reported.
In Orissa, a group of 30 to 40 armed rebels, including several women, set fire to a police station in Keonjhar district and abducted a police officer late Wednesday.
The rebels had called the two-day strike across five states - Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.
The rebels claim they are fighting for the rights of tribal, landless and poor people and are active in some of the country's poorest districts.
More than one-third of India's 626 administrative districts across eight states are affected by insurgency, which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described as the greatest internal security threat facing India.