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Maoists Kidnap Indian Lawmaker Amid Italian Hostage Talks

Indian officials say Maoists rebels have kidnapped a lawmaker in the eastern state of Orrisa, where two Italians were abducted by rebels last week.

Authorities say a group of armed men snatched state legislature member Jhina Hikaka from his car early Saturday.

Police say the men left leaflets in Hikaka's car, listing the same 13 demands set for the release of the Italians.

It was not immediately clear if the politician was kidnapped by the same wing of the Maoists who abducted the Italians. Saturday's kidnapping took place in a different region of the state.

Rebel negotiators have been talking with government officials about releasing the Italians.

Maoist rebels, known as Naxalites or Naxals, have infiltrated more than 20 Indian states.

Indian leaders have referred to Naxalism as the country's biggest internal security threat. The groups include some of the country's most extreme poor, who say they are struggling against state-sanctioned acquisition of their land and natural resources.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.