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Maoist Rebels Kill 4 Soldiers in India


In eastern India, suspected Maoist rebels have killed four paramilitary soldiers and wounded two others. The latest attack comes as the head of a state where the rebels have mounted deadly attacks in recent weeks, calls for a new strategy to end the insurgency.

Police say Maoist rebels detonated a landmine and blew up a paramilitary vehicle in West Bengal on Wednesday killing and wounding soldiers.

The ambush comes two days after a deadly attack killed about 35 people, mostly civilians when the bus in which they were traveling exploded in another state - Chhattisgarh.

Both Chhattisgarh and West Bengal states are among states hardest hit by the Maoist insurgency, and have witnessed deadly attacks blamed on Maoist rebels in recent months.

On a visit to New Delhi to meet the prime minister to discuss the growing Maoist violence, Chhattisgarh's Chief Minister Raman Singh called the insurgents the "biggest terrorists" in the country.

He says the Maoists have killed hundreds, thousands of civilians and soldiers over the years, attacked buses, destroyed schools, and meted out summary justice in villages.

Singh says there is no room for a soft option in the fight against the rebels.

He says the time has come for the country to draft a long term strategy to crush the insurgency.

The federal government has come under pressure to beef up its fight against the Maoists after Monday's attack targeting civilians.

The rebels, undeterred by a government operation launched against them six months ago, have demonstrated their growing strength by mounting even more audacious attacks.

Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram has said that several states affected by the insurgency have asked for air support for reconnaissance and troop deployment in areas where the rebels have established their bases. The minister has not commented on what the government plans to do, but says he will ask for a larger mandate to tackle the guerrillas.

The government is likely to deploy additional paramilitary forces in the areas worst affected by the violence. The insurgency has spread along a wide belt in eastern and central India, which is not as developed as several other parts of the country.

Chidambaram said Tuesday the government is willing to begin peace talks with the rebels if they suspend all attacks for 72 hours.

The rebels have been fighting for four decades demanding jobs and land for the poor. The government admits that lack of development and poverty in some of India's least developed areas is fuelling the insurgency.

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