News / Asia

In Eastern India, Maoist Rebels Kill Ten Villagers

An Indian official inspects bodies covered by blankets in West Midnapore district's Sildha, West Bengal state, 16 Feb 2010
An Indian official inspects bodies covered by blankets in West Midnapore district's Sildha, West Bengal state, 16 Feb 2010
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In eastern India, Maoist rebels have attacked a village, killing 10 people and wounding at least 20 others. This is the second major strike by the guerrillas. this week.   

Police say hundreds of armed Maoist guerrillas surrounded Phulwaria, in Bihar state, late Wednesday night, opened fire and detonated explosives.  A number of homes were set on fire.

The top police official in Bihar, U.S. Dutt says the rebels laid land mines, to delay the arrival of the police, and disappeared into neighboring jungles by the time the police arrived.

"We have recovered ten bodies, so far, of women, children who have died because of gunshot injuries, shock, explosive injuries," he said.

A young man from the village described the attack, saying the villagers were taken by surprise.

He says he managed to save his life.  He says the Maoists broke open the door, burst into his house and beat those inside.   

Police say the attack could have been motivated by revenge, because the villagers had helped authorities arrest about 10 rebels, earlier this month.

The raid on the village in Bihar comes two days after suspected Maoist rebels attacked a security post in neighboring West Bengal state and killed 24 policemen. These are some of the biggest assaults launched by the rebels in recent months.

In another eastern state, Jharkhand, authorities agreed to demands by rebels to release some prisoners in exchange for a kidnapped local government official.

The Maoist rebellion started four decades ago in West Bengal.  n the last decade, the rebels have entrenched themselves along a wide eastern belt of the country - which is among India's most underdeveloped regions. The rebels say they are fighting for the rights of the poor and the landless, who they say are exploited by authorities and rich landlords.

The federal government has been urging state governments to take strong measures to tackle the rebellion.

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