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Maoists destroy trains, halt transport in India

INDIA: Maoist insurgents attacked two goods trains and paralysed public transport in parts of central and eastern India on Tuesday at the start of a two-day strike against a controversial government industrial policy.

The Maoists, who operate across 13 Indian states, called a strike against special economic zones (SEZs), low-tax enclaves created to boost industrial and export growth that have sparked protests from farmers who will lose their land.

"The highways look deserted and shops are closed and we are quickly moving additional forces to vulnerable areas," Mohammed Nihal, a senior police officer in the eastern state Jharkhand, said.

A goods train engine was blown up and another set ablaze in Jharkhand. Bus services were disrupted and many shops were closed.

Rebels also set ablaze five trucks transporting minerals, police said.

In the central state of Chhattisgarh, one of the areas worst hit by Maoist violence in recent years, dozens of trains were held up as rebels blew up a stretch of railway track in restive Dantewada region to stop transportation of iron ore to southern India.

Two villagers were also hacked to death by rebels, police said.

Extra police were deployed in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh and armed guards protected several SEZ locations, including the port city of Vishakhapatnam and Nellore, according to witnesses.

Maoists, who say they are fighting for the rights of poor peasants and landless labourers, stepped up protests after the federal government announced it would set up SEZs across the country.

Ranchi, Tuesday, Reuters

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