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India Investigates Andhra Pradesh State Blast - 2003-10-02

In India, authorities have launched an investigation into an attack by suspected Maoist guerrillas that wounded the leader of the southern Andhra Pradesh state and three other state officials.

Police combed the jungles in the area where a blast Wednesday hit a convoy of cars carrying Andhra Pradesh's chief minister, Chandrababu Naidu, and other officials.

Mr. Naidu, who was slighted wounded, returned to the state capital Hyderabad after receiving treatment at a local hospital. Three other officials and the driver of the car were also injured.

The convoy was on a forest road between the historic Hindu temples of Tirupati and Tirumala when landmines exploded in their path.

Police say they recovered several more unexploded landmines from the road. They say the attackers used "primitive technology" to explode the mines, stringing them on a tree with an electrical wire then detonating them by remote control.

The home minister of Andhra Pradesh, T. Devender Goud, says there is no doubt that leftist guerillas belonging to the People's War Group are responsible for the attack.

Maoists have been waging an insurgency in Andhra Pradesh and several other Indian states for nearly three decades. They say they are fighting on behalf of landless farmers and against what they call the government's "anti-poor" policies.

The rebels frequently attack police posts and other government targets in Andhra Pradesh. Mr. Naidu's government opened negotiations with the rebels last year, but the talks were derailed when the guerrillas attacked a police bus.

Mr. Naidu is one of India's most well-known politicians, and his regional party is a close ally of the federal coalition led by the Bharatiya Janata party.

Andhra Pradesh is among India's poorer states, but Mr. Naidu's government has tried to improve the economy in recent years by wooing high-technology industries and launching development projects.