April 28, 2006

Police shoot dead 11 Maoists in southern India

HYDERABAD, India (Reuters) - Police in southern India said
they had shot dead 11 Maoist rebels, including six women, on
Friday after the guerrillas attacked a jungle patrol.

The gun battle took place in the forests of Kadapa district
in Andhra Pradesh state, about 425 km (265 miles) south of
Hyderabad, Y. Nagi Reddy, a top police officer, said.

He said rebels opened fire on a team of Greyhound commandos
-- a specialist police force formed to fight the Maoists -- as
it neared a guerrilla training camp.

State police chief Swaranjit Sen said 19 Maoists had
managed to escape after a gun battle. Police had seized dozens
of rockets, several mines, guns, ammunition and Maoist
literature, he added.

Indian Maoists, who hold sway over vast tracts of the
countryside in the east, south and center, claim to fight for
the rights of poor peasants and landless laborers. Their main
targets are security forces and political opponents.

Their revolt has been going on for three decades now and,
in Andhra Pradesh, nearly 600 people -- about 300 Maoists, 250
civilians and 50 policemen -- have been killed in clashes since
January 2005 when a truce collapsed.

In the neighboring state of Chhattisgarh, the bullet-ridden
bodies of two of 40 villagers reported kidnapped by Maoists
were found in the forests of rebel-infested Bastar region, the
state's interior minister said.

The villagers, belonging to a government-sponsored
anti-Maoist movement called Salwa Judum (Campaign for Peace),
were seized earlier this week.

(Additional reporting by Sujeet Kumar in RAIPUR)