Maoist Rebels Kill 24 Police In Eastern India

By: Manik Banerjee - AP Writer
By: Manik Banerjee - AP Writer

CALCUTTA, India (AP) - Maoist rebels detonated land mines and set a security outpost ablaze in eastern India, killing at least 24 policemen in the worst-ever attack on police in the restive area.

An additional seven officers were wounded in the brazen assault Monday by more than 100 communist fighters, who also stole weapons from the security post in Shilda village of West Bengal state, said district magistrate N.S. Nigam.

"Never before the police here have suffered so many losses in
one attack," Surajit Kar Purkayastha, a police inspector-general,
told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Shilda is about 105 miles (170 kilometers) southwest of state
capital, Calcutta.

A total of 51 police officers were in the camp at the time of
the attack, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

Nigam said the camp was close to a bustling market, and the
rebels struck when a large number of people were shopping in the

Kishenji, a top Maoist leader in the area, claimed
responsibility for the attack in a call to a local television
station. He said it was in retaliation for a recent security
crackdown against the rebels.

Police reinforcements scoured the area Tuesday for the
assailants who fled after the assault, Nigam said.

Inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, the rebels
have fought for more than four decades demanding land and jobs for
farmers and the poor. The guerrillas are active in 20 Indian

In the past few months the Indian government has cracked down on
the outlawed 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. The rebels
are also known as Naxals or Naxalites, after Naxalbari, the village
in West Bengal state where their movement was born in 1967.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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