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Maoist Attack in India Kills Congress Party Officials

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A Maoist rebel attack in eastern India has killed at least 27 people, including several local officials of the country's ruling Congress party.

Authorities say a large number of rebels on Saturday attacked a Congress party convoy in the densely forested Sukma area of Chhattisgarh state. Dozens of people were wounded.

Among those killed was state party official Mahendra Karma, who had founded a local militia (Salwa Judum) to combat Maoist rebels. Also killed were state Congress party chief Nand Kumar Patel and his son. The Congress party is the main opposition party in the state, which holds elections later this year.

The attack took place late in the afternoon Saturday as the convoy was returning to the state capital from a political rally.

Congress party President Sonia Gandhi has condemned what she called an attack on India's democratic values. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has vowed that the government will take firm action against those responsible for the attack.

The rebels have been fighting the central government for more than four decades, demanding land and jobs for tenant farmers and the poor.

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