Forty-four Indian troops, Maoist rebels killed in jungle battle
INDIA: More than 40 troops and Maoist rebels were killed in one of
the deadliest clashes to date in revolt-hit central India, officials
said Tuesday. Vishwa Ranjan, police chief of the Indian state of
Chhattisgarh, said 44 bodies found so far at the site of the savage
gunbattle included the corpses of 24 troops and 20 Maoist insurgents.
â€śA search is now on for our remaining men missing in the area,â€ť
Ranjan said in state capital Raipur, some 500 kilometres (310 miles)
from Dantewada district, where the clashes occurred late Monday and
A 115-strong security contingent was rushed to Dantewada to target a
suspected Maoist outpost.
Officials spoke of fierce fighting in the jungles of Dantewada, a
sprawling tribal district where the outlawed guerrillas hold absolute
â€śBoth the sides used mortars and light machine guns,â€ť a senior state
security officer told AFP in Raipur.
The troops were sent following a tip-off on the whereabouts of a
rebel camp in Chhattisgarh.
â€śIt looks like it was a set-up,â€ť a federal home ministry official,
who asked not to be named, told AFP â€” referring to what appeared to be a
well-planned ambush by the increasingly active ultra-leftist rebels. The
officials said the soldiers appeared to have been outnumbered by five to
Maoist rebels, who launched their campaign in 1967 and say they are
fighting for the rights of landless farmers, hold sway in 10 of
Chhattisgarhâ€™s 16 districts.
They also operate in 14 of Indiaâ€™s 29 states, with their area of
activity spanning from the border with Nepal down to Andhra Pradesh
state in the south. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last year
described them as the most serious threat to national security.
Raipur, Wednesday, AFP.