Rebels kill 23 in In­dia am­bush

Viet Nam News - - Asia -

AIP , In­dia — A heav­il­yarmed gang of nearly 300 left­ist rebels killed at least 23 peo­ple in an at­tack on a con­voy car­ry­ing lo­cal Congress party lead­ers and sup­port­ers in cen­tral In­dia, po­lice said yes­ter­day.

The at­tack on Satur­day was the dead­li­est in three years and the lat­est in a long-sim­mer­ing con­flict that pits the left-wing in­sur­gents against au­thor­i­ties in the forests of mainly cen­tral and eastern In­dia.

State Congress chief Nand Kumar Pa­tel, his son Di­nesh, and for­mer state home min­is­ter Ma­hen­dra Karma who had set up a con­tro­ver­sial anti-left­ist group in 2005 were among those killed in the mine and gun at­tack in a re­mote tribal belt of Ch­hat­tis­garh state.

“The to­tal num­ber of dead now stands at 23. We can also con­firm that 32 peo­ple are in­jured, most of them se­ri­ously,” state po­lice di­rec­tor- gen­eral Ram­ni­was, who goes by one name, said.

For­mer fed­eral min­is­ter Vidya Cha­ran Shukla was badly in­jured and had been air­lifted to New Delhi in “se­ri­ous” con­di­tion, said Congress vi­cepres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi, who flew to the state cap­i­tal Raipur late on Satur­day.

The 84-year-old Shukla, a vet­eran Congress par­lia­men­tar­ian, was be­ing treated by a team of doc­tors at a pri­vate hos­pi­tal on the out­skirts of the cap­i­tal.

The rebels trig­gered a land­mine be­fore open­ing fire at the con­voy of Congress party work­ers and lead­ers who were leav­ing the area af­ter a po­lit­i­cal rally, po­lice said.

At least five po­lice­men also lost their lives in the at­tack in the Jag­dalpur area of Bas­tar dis­trict, 375km south of Raipur.

“Whenour­carsreache­daturn­ing point, the Nax­als started fir­ing,” an in­jured Congress worker told NDTV, re­fer­ring to the rebels also known as Nax­alites.

“Two cars were blown up and the fir­ing con­tin­ued for al­most one and a half hours. Many peo­ple were killed and many sus­tained bul­let in­juries. Some of us lay on the road to save our­selves.”

Congress chief So­nia Gandhi, who has con­demned the in­ci­dent as “ shock­ing ” , rushed to Raipur along with Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh to take stock of the sit­u­a­tion.

Singh, who has de­scribed the left­ists as the coun­try’s most se­ri­ous in­ter­nal se­cu­rity threat, said the am­bush should spur the bat­tle against ex­trem­ists.

“Those who have lost their lives in this bar­baric at­tack are mar­tyrs of democ­racy,” he said af­ter vis­it­ing the wounded in hos­pi­tal yes­ter­day.

“We have to be more de­ter­mined in fight­ing Naxal ex­trem­ism. Th­ese lives should not go in vain.”

Left­ist rebels have been op­er­at­ing mainly in ru­ral ar­eas of cen­tral and eastern In­dia since 1967.

Naren­dra Modi, se­nior leader of the main national op­po­si­tion Bharatiya Janata Party, slammed the at­tack and called for unity against “nax­al­ism”.

“The need of the hour is to stand to­gether as a na­tion and vow to fight this men­ace that threat­ens our democ­racy,” he said on tte .— A P

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