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Suspected Maoist rebels kill 7 Indian policemen

Suspected Maoist rebels kill 7 Indian policemen

Suspected Maoist rebels blew up a bus carrying police officers, killing seven of them in eastern India on Sunday as the country's home minister repeated his offer to hold peace talks with the group.
Another 13 police officers, specially trained for fighting the insurgents, were wounded in the land mine attack near Mantriamba, a village 235 miles (525 kilometers) south of Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Orissa state, said S.K. Acharya, a police officer. No one claimed responsibility for the blast, but police blamed the insurgents.
The attack came on a day India's Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram visited a rebel stronghold in the neighboring state of West Bengal where he reviewed the progress of the government's "Operation Green Hunt" offensive aimed at flushing the militants out of their forest hide-outs.
The rebels are known as Naxals, after Naxalbari, the village in West Bengal state where the movement was founded in 1967.
On Sunday, Chidambaram reiterated the government's offer that it would hold talks with the rebels if they abandon violence.
"In fact, Naxals are cowards. Why are they hiding in forests? We have invited them for talks after they abjure violence. If they really want development, if they really want to discuss problems of the people, they are welcome to talk," he told reporters after meeting security officials in Lalgarh area.
Suspected rebels moved into the Lalgarh region, a heavily forested part of West Bengal, last year after driving out poorly armed local police and seized control of villages in a 20-square-mile (50-square-kilometer) area. Security forces later drove them out from most of the area.
The rebels demand that the government's offensive end before they agree to talks.
Government officials say the Maoists are not serious about peace talks and want to use a truce to regroup and rearm themselves.
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. About 2,000 people _ including police, militants and civilians _ have been killed in the past few years.
The rebels, who have tapped into the rural poor's growing anger at being left out of the country's economic gains, are now present in 20 of the country's 28 states and have an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 fighters.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called them India's biggest internal security threat.


Updated : 2021-05-12 23:59 GMT+08:00