Saturday, October 27, 2007

Report: Communist rebels kill 17 villagers in east India festival attack, police say

Communist rebels attacked a village festival in eastern India with gunfire and bombs Saturday, killing at least 17 people, news reports said.
About 25 Maoist guerrillas attacked the cultural festival in the remote state of Jharkhand, opening fire indiscriminately on the crowd, the Press Trust of India news agency quoted police as saying.
Local police chief Arun Kumar Singh said 14 people died at the scene and three others died later. Four more people were wounded, he said.
Among the dead was the son of the state's former chief minister, Babulal Marandi, Singh told PTI. It was not clear if he was the target of the attack, but the rebels frequently target police and government officials.
Local police could not immediately be reached for comment.
The rebels, also known as Naxalites because of the Naxalbari region where the movement was born, are mainly active in six of India's 28 states _ Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Karnataka, Orissa and Chattisgarh _ where widespread poverty has fueled a lengthy insurgency by militants demanding land and jobs for agricultural laborers and the poor.
The movement claims inspiration from Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong.
India's recent economic boom has created immense wealth, but the prosperity has not reached most of its 1.1 billion people, two-thirds of whom are farmers. Many peasants have joined the insurgents in the demand for land and jobs.

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