About 100 communist insurgents attacked a passenger train in eastern India, killing two people, in what officials said was an attempt to loot the weapons of security personnel.
The Maoist guerrillas forcibly stopped an inter-city express service in the Jamui district of Bihar state this afternoon and opened fire at armed railway police, Deepak Barnwal, the region’s superintendent of police, said by phone. One of the two dead was a member of the railways security force, Shashikant Tiwary, the district magistrate, said. Two other people were injured in the attack.
Today’s incident took place two weeks after the rebels, known in India as Naxalites after the village of Naxalbari where their leftwing revolt began, struck a convoy of vehicles carrying senior members of the ruling Congress party. Twenty-eight people died in the May 25 strike, including local political leaders, in one of the most deadly attacks on civilians of a four-decade offensive.
The Maoists rebels are active in about a dozen of the country’s 28 states, many of them rich in iron ore, coal, bauxite, manganese and other minerals. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called the insurgents the greatest threat to India’s internal security.
The guerrillas say they are fighting for the rights of poor villagers and tribal communities whose resources are, the rebels argue, being exploited to propel India’s $1.9 trillion economy with few benefits for local people.
The rebels attacked the train to grab arms and ammunition from railway police as their traditional sources of weapons have dried up, said R.P.N. Singh, federal junior home minister, in New Delhi. “It definitely shows the sense of desperation among the Naxalites,” he said, expressing the government’s resolve to fight the rebels.
Singh, India’s premier, and Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde this month consulted chief ministers of the country’s states and political parties on a strategy to deal with the insurgents.
Maoists killed 1,005 civilians and security personnel in 2010, a figure that fell to 611 in 2011, and 415 last year, according to government data.
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