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Indian Troops Enter Maoist Stronghold

Indian security forces trying to retake several villages from Maoist rebels in West Bengal state say they are meeting little resistance.

Police had been using rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse villagers who had been backing the rebels and had to cross a heavily mined forest to get to the settlements.  But security personnel say they moved into Lalgarh easily Saturday and promised to intensify their efforts.

Police Director General Praveen Kumar warns more must be done to reestablish "the rule of law."

The chief of West Bengal state Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee met with Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram Saturday, and told reporters he is now thinking about banning all Maoists.
 
The Maoist rebels are part of a wider group of insurgents known as Naxalites who say they fight for the rights of the poor.

Indian authorities accuse the Maoists of killing at least five members of the region's ruling communist party (Communist Party of India-Marxist) earlier this week.

Chidambaram on Friday warned that efforts to regain control of the villages would "take some time," and he urged the Maoists to talk with the government instead of fighting.

Many farmers in West Bengal have been angered by plans to build large industrial plants in rural areas.  

The Naxalites are active in at least 13 of India's 29 states.  Their decades-long insurgency has left thousands dead.


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

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