Maoist rebels blew up a bus carrying police in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh Monday, killing more than 30 people, a police official said.
AFP - At least 35 people were killed after Maoist rebels blew up a bus carrying police and civilians in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh on Monday, an official said.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh told reporters in the state capital Raipur that the dead included 11 police personnel.
"Twenty-four civilians and 11 policemen have died and 15 persons including 14 police personnel were injured in the blast," the chief minister said.
He said an unspecified number of bodies were still trapped in the mangled bus following the mine blast in Dantewada district -- a Maoist stronghold where rebels ambushed and killed 75 policemen last month in the bloodiest massacre of security forces by the extremists.
Television footage showed bodies laid out on the road next to the wreckage of the bus. The front portion of the vehicle had been almost completely destroyed by the force of the blast.
"The killing and targeting of innocent civilians travelling on a bus is to be strongly condemned by all right-thinking people," Indian Home Secretary G.K. Pillai told reporters in New Delhi.
The security men among the dead and injured were special police officers, who are recruited from the civilian population to help security forces in anti-Maoist operations, said S.R. Kalluri, deputy inspector general of police.
The left-wing guerrillas have stepped up attacks in response to a government offensive against them that began late last year in the forests of the so-called "Red Corridor" that stretches across north and eastern India.
The insurgency began in the state of West Bengal in 1967 in the name of defending the rights of tribal groups, but attacks have since spread to 20 of India's 28 states.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has labelled the insurgency the biggest internal security threat to India.
Tribal groups and many rural areas have been left behind by the country's economic development, and the poverty and discontent with local government corruption is seen as a major source of Maoist support.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram has previously said the government needs to tackle the root causes of the insurgency and he has offered talks with the rebels -- on condition they renounce violence beforehand.
Senior Maoist figures have said they will talk only if the government puts an end to the national offensive, codenamed Operation Green Hunt, that involves 56,000 paramilitary forces in six states in addition to local police.
So far, New Delhi has resisted using the military against the insurgents, though the recent deaths have prompted calls for a larger assault.
On Sunday the rebels killed eight villagers in an apparent revenge attack on suspected police informers in Chhattisgarh.
More than 50 Maoists surrounded two villages and killed the victims after abducting them.
Date created : 2010-05-17