2 Indian Soldiers Killed in Suspected Maoist Attack

Jhumur Deb
Guwahati, India
180409-IN-attack-620.jpg A man takes photos of charred vehicles after an ambush by Maoist rebels in Sukma, a district of eastern India’s Chhattisgarh state, March 11, 2014.

Leftwing extremists killed at least two paramilitary personnel in coordinated attacks on Indian security forces in eastern Chhattisgarh state on Monday, just days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled visit to India’s Maoist belt, an official said.

An official said suspected Maoist guerrillas carried out twin blasts and opened fire on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) patrol in Bijapur district, about 450 km (280 miles) from state capital Raipur. The armed rebels, who are also known as Naxalites, had targeted a bus ferrying 30 CRPF personnel in the same district a few hours later.

There were no casualties reported in the first attack, but the second assault – in which the rebels allegedly blew up the CRPF vehicle with an improvised explosive device (IED) – killed two security personnel and injured five others while the patrol was out on an anti-Maoist operation, according to D.M. Awasthi, chief of the anti-Naxalite operations in Chhattisgarh.

“Two security personnel dead, five injured in IED attack on [a] police party vehicle near Bijapur’s Kutru [area],” Awasthi said on Twitter.

The coordinated strikes came nearly two weeks after forces arrested 15 Maoist rebels in the state’s Sukma district and days ahead of Modi’s visit to Bijapur, a Naxalite stronghold, to inaugurate development projects aimed at putting an end to the decades-old violence.

Maoists, who are inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting Indian security forces since the late 1960s from jungle hideouts in more than a third of central and eastern India’s 600 districts.

The rebels, who claim to be fighting to establish a classless society, have accused successive governments of uprooting poor and landless people to exploit mineral-rich forests scattered throughout the region, known as the “Red Corridor.”

Although the level of violence has declined sharply in recent years, with the government offering cash incentives for rebels who surrender, the group continues to stage occasional attacks on security forces and police informers.

Modi’s upcoming scheduled visit to Chhattisgarh on Saturday is his second official trip to the troubled state since his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept to power in May 2014. His first visit to Chhattisgarh in 2015 marked the first time an Indian prime minister went to the state in almost three decades.

“There is no future through violence. The plow, not the gun, is the way forward,” Modi had said during his first visit as he called on the rebels to resolve their differences with his government through peaceful means.

Monday’s strikes on Indian forces were organized as a sign of protest against Modi’s announced visit to the region, according to a security analyst.

“[The attack] is on expected lines. Maoists were sure to make all efforts to ensure their protest against Modi’s visit goes noticed. We can expect more violence in the coming days,” G.M. Srivastava, a security analyst based in Assam, told BenarNews.

Chhattisgarh is one of several Indian states grappling with the Maoist insurgency that has claimed about 14,000 lives since 1996, according to the only available official figures. Among the dead are about 8,000 civilians, at least 3,000 rebels and 2,600 security personnel.


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