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Indian police in jungle battle with Maoist rebels: officials

International Desk |
Update: 2010-08-03 22:11:45
Indian police in jungle battle with Maoist rebels: officials

RAIPUR: Indian police and Maoist fighters were locked in a fierce gun battle on Wednesday in the central state of Chhattisgarh, one of the rebels` key strongholds, officials said.

The clash took place in deep jungle about 500 kilometres (300 miles) south of the state capital Raipur, and no casualty figures were yet available.

"Police personnel and armed Maoists have been engaged in fighting in the jungle of southern Chhattisgarh in Dantewada district since noon," Ramniwas, chief of anti-Maoist operations in the state, told AFP.

"There could be casualties on either side, but we do not have a clear picture of the situation due to the jungle and heavy rain," said Ramniwas, who uses only one name.

Dantewada has been the scene of recent successful Maoist strikes against the security forces. In the district in April they massacred 76 policemen in the bloodiest single blow of their decades-long struggle.

The Maoists are fighting government rule across a large swathe of eastern and central India with support from landless tribal groups and poor farmers who have been left behind by economic development.

Their insurgency, which first erupted in 1967 in West Bengal, has been described by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the country`s largest internal security threat.

The government launched a major offensive last year to tackle the Maoists, triggering a series of rebel counter-attacks.

BDST: 1934 HRS, August 04, 2010

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