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Maoist Rebels Derail 3 Trains in India - 2003-07-15


In eastern India, suspected Maoist rebels have triggered a series of explosions on rail tracks, causing three trains to derail. Rail officials say the derailments occurred before dawn Tuesday after suspected Maoist rebels blew up train tracks at different locations in the eastern Indian state of Bihar.

Slowing-moving local trains derailed but passengers were not harmed.

A senior official in Central Railways, Radhesham Varshney, made a statement on Indian television. He says five or six bombs had been planted along the rail tracks, but not all the bombs had exploded. He says huge stretches of track have been ripped apart.

All rail traffic along the route had been halted as a safety measure.

Rail officials say the outlawed Maoist Communist Center left notes on the tracks, claiming responsibility for the derailments.

The explosions coincided with a strike called by the rebel group in northern Bihar to protest what they called police repression. Police have arrested several leaders of the rebel group in recent weeks.

Bihar is one of India's poorest and most backward states and communist rebels have been active there for decades, using violence to champion the cause of poor and landless. They usually target rich landlords and law enforcement authorities - but sabotaging rail tracks is also a popular tactic used by the rebels to draw attention to their movement.

Indian officials say it is difficult to prevent such incidents along the country's massive rail network, which stretches across 62,000 kilometers, often passing through remote, rural areas.

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