Maoist rebels blast Indian school, police station

AP News
Posted: Dec 06, 2011 6:56 AM
Maoist rebels blast Indian school, police station

Maoist rebels have raided police posts, engaged in shootouts and bombed government buildings and railway lines in eastern India in a two-day campaign of violence protesting their leader's killing, police said Tuesday.

The attacks are one of this year's worst spasms of violence by the rebels, whom the goverment considers to be India's greatest internal security threat.

While 11 people died in the violence Sunday, no deaths were reported from Monday's attacks including a nighttime raid on a police station that sparked a heavy gunfight in the south of Bihar state, District Police Superintendent Siddhartha Mohan Jain said.

The rebels had killed 10 officers and an 8-year-old boy on Sunday in bombing and firing on a police convoy traveling with a Jharkhand state lawmaker. Another attack on a paramilitary camp that day in Bihar led to a three-hour gunbattle that injured one rebel, who was later arrested, police said.

Another three suspected rebels were arrested with explosives Monday in the south of Chhattisgarh state, where railway tracks had been blown up at several points as well as in neighboring Jharkhand. The rebels also set fire to a cell phone tower in Bihar on Sunday, police said.

Public transportation as well as supply deliveries were stalled as trains were canceled and buses stayed off the road for fear of hitting land mines on rural roads.

The rebels also bombed an unoccupied school building around midnight Monday in the west of Jharkhand, police said.

Though the rebels typically target infrastructure like railways and police stations, dozens of schools have been destroyed in recent years, according to a 2010 UNESCO report, while security forces have occupied schools for anti-rebel operations.

The rebels have pledged to avenge the Nov. 24 killing of Koteshwar Rao, alias Kishenji, who they say was captured and executed during a manhunt in the jungles of West Bengal state. Security forces said the rebel leader was killed in a shootout while resisting arrest.

Thousands of people including police, militants and civilians have been killed in just the last decade of the rebels' fight to demand land and jobs for agricultural laborers and the poor.

Referred to as Naxalites, for the West Bengal village of Naxalbari where the movement began in 1967, the fighters were inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong and have drawn strength from displaced tribal populations opposed corporate exploitation and official corruption. Today the rebels are spread across 20 of India's 28 states.