Report: Senior Indian Maoist rebel leader killed

AP News
Posted: Nov 25, 2011 11:00 AM
Report: Senior Indian Maoist rebel leader killed

A senior Maoist rebel leader was killed in a gunbattle with security forces in eastern India, news reports said Friday.

Press Trust of India quoted a top paramilitary official as saying the operation that killed Kishenji, who uses just one name, was "clean and successful."

The government has called the rebels, who are now spread across 20 of India's 28 states, the country's greatest internal security threat.

Another official, Vineet Goel, told PTI that Thursday's operation was planned after police and paramilitary forces received word that rebels were holed up in the Burisole forest in West Bengal state.

Police told The Associated Press that Kishenji's niece and mother have yet to identify the body. Varavara Rao, a poet and longtime Maoist sympathizer, told NDTV news channel that Kishenji was killed in a staged gunbattle.

Kishenji was one of several leaders of the Maoists. He was born in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh and had been part of the rebels since the 1980s. Authorities had blamed him for a brazen attack on a security camp that killed 24 men in West Bengal last year.

Inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, the rebels have fought for more than four decades demanding land and jobs for farmers and the poor. They have tapped into the rural poor's growing anger at being left out of the country's economic gains.

They have blown up trains, set up land mines to kill government officials and attacked government buildings to get their message heard. The movement has an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 fighters.

Several local governments in the worst-affected states in central and eastern India are unable to function because of rebel attacks.