KOLKATA, India (AP) — One police officer was killed and another four were injured when they were fired at by members of a Gorkha organization demanding a new state be carved in the region of West Bengal state where they live, police said Friday.
Anuj Sharma, a top state police officer, said the group of officers was attacked in Patlibas area Thursday night on the outskirts of Darjeeling, where they had gone following intelligence that the Gurung faction of the Gorkha Peoples' Freedom Front was stockpiling weapons in a hideout.
Police were looking for the attackers, Sharma said.
The region sought for a Gorkhaland state is largely inhabited by Gorkhas of Nepalese origin.
At least 11 people were killed in clashes between the protesters and Indian security forces during a strike called by the front that lasted three months. It called off the strike recently after receiving an invitation for talks by India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
Tourism and tea industry are the most significant contributors to Darjeeling's economy. The tourists fled the popular hill resort as the protesters became violent and attacked government buildings and shut businesses, causing huge losses to traders.
The demand for a Gorkhaland state was first raised in the 1980s to be carved out of the hills of Darjeeling and neighboring areas. Related violence caused more than 1,000 deaths.
The Indian government later set up the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council in 1988 which administered the Darjeeling hills for 23 years with some degree of autonomy
In 2007, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, a new group, again raised the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland and resumed the agitation. The demand has been rejected by the state government.