Maoist land mine kills 12 para­mil­i­tary po­lice

The Washington Times Daily - - World -

NEW DELHI | Maoist rebels am­bushed a pa­trol team in cen­tral In­dia on Tues­day, killing at least 12 para­mil­i­tary po­lice­men, a po­lice of­fi­cial said.

The po­lice­men were trav­el­ing through a densely forested area of Ma­ha­rash­tra state when the rebels set off a land mine, blow­ing up their ve­hi­cle, the of­fi­cial said.

An­other 28 po­lice­men were wounded in the pow­er­ful blast, he said.

The of­fi­cial spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he was not au­tho­rized to speak to the me­dia.

The rebels, who say they are in­spired by Chi­nese rev­o­lu­tion­ary leader Mao Ze­dong, have been fight­ing for more than three decades in sev­eral In­dian states, de­mand­ing land and jobs for agri­cul­tural la­bor­ers and the poor.

They fre­quently tar­get po­lice and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, whom they ac­cuse of col­lud­ing with land­lords and rich farm­ers to ex­ploit the poor.

The rebels are now present in 20 of In­dia’s 28 states and have an es­ti­mated 10,000 to 20,000 fight­ers, ac­cord­ing to the Home Min­istry. Thou­sands of peo­ple — in­clud­ing po­lice, mil­i­tants and civil­ians — have died in the vi­o­lence in re­cent years. con­spir­acy to top­ple the Is­lamic-rooted gov­ern­ment re­jected the al­le­ga­tions Tues­day as “a com­edy of in­com­pe­tence.”

On the sec­ond day of his trial in Istanbul, Gen. Ilker Bas­bug said the charges brought against him were at­tempts to dis­credit the armed forces and de­clared that he would not de­fend him­self or an­swer ques­tions in court, the state-run news agency re­ported.

Gen. Bas­bug, who was ar­rested in Jan­uary, is the most se­nior mil­i­tary of­fi­cer to be pros­e­cuted in a se­ries of ter­ror­ism probes that be­gan in 2008 and that have net­ted hun­dreds of sus­pects, many of them re­tired and ac­tive-duty mil­i­tary of­fi­cers.

The gov­ern­ment has de­fended the probes, which have stripped the mil­i­tary of its po­lit­i­cal clout, as steps to­ward en­hanc­ing democ­racy, but sus­pi­cions of score-set­tling, long im­pris­on­ments with­out ver­dicts and other lapses have tainted the le­gal process.

Gen. Bas­bug faces life in prison on charges of at­tempt­ing to over­throw the gov­ern­ment. The charges stem from al­le­ga­tions that the mil­i­tary funded dozens of web­sites aimed at dis­cred­it­ing Prime Min­is­ter Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan’s gov­ern­ment in 2009 as part of al­leged ef­forts to top­ple his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

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