Indian police ambush Maoist rebels, killing eight | 2017-12-15 |

Indian police ambush Maoist rebels, killing eight

AFP     15th December, 2017 12:18:12 printer

Indian police ambush Maoist rebels, killing eight

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At least eight suspected Maoist rebels were killed in a gunfight with police who ambushed their hideout in southern India on Thursday.


The deaths are the latest in a long-running conflict between Indian authorities and the leftist rebels, who say they are fighting for the rights of marginalised tribal groups.


Police said they came under fire from the group when they ambushed a suspected forest hideout in Bhadradri Kothagudem district in the southern state of Telangana.


"Special police forces launched a search operation in the forest on Wednesday night to capture a group of extremists," district police chief Ambar Kishor Jha told AFP.


"They came under fire and eight of the extremists were killed."


Telangana is part of the so-called "red corridor" that passes through resource-rich areas of central, southern, western and eastern India and is mostly inhabited by underprivileged tribes.


The state was once a hotbed of Maoists rebels, but has managed to curb the insurgency through welfare schemes for tribal groups and a security crackdown.


Jha said hundreds of police were still searching the dense forests after the siege for any rebels who may have escaped.


He said police seized two semi-automatic rifles, hand grenades and ammunition from the site after a gunbattle lasting several hours.


The Maoist insurgency has claimed around 10,000 lives since it started in the 1960s, and is considered India's most serious internal security threat.


The rebels operate from jungle bases, but often descend on villages to demand protection money and recruit young men and women to their ranks.


They also oppose efforts to build new roads and infrastructure in remote areas because it undermines their long-running campaign against India's security forces.


Since his election in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been seeking to stem the insurgency by earmarking development funds for revolt-hit areas and improving policing.