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Rebels kill 11 policemen in central India

RAIPUR: Suspected Maoist rebels killed 11 paramilitary commandos Saturday in a remote part of central India after ambushing their convoy, police said, the latest attack in the country’s simmering internal conflict.

The troops were on their way to provide protection to workers for a road construction project when the gunmen attacked, said a senior police officer of restive Chhattisgarh state.

“We can confirm that 11 security personnel have lost their lives in the ambush which was carried out by Maoist rebels in Sukma district,” police deputy inspector general Sundarraj P. told AFP.

“Three other CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) personnel are critically injured. We have deployed helicopters to evacuate them.”

The rebels also snatched weapons and wireless radio sets from the spot, local media reports said.

The attack is the latest in a deadly conflict that pits the insurgents against local and national authorities in the forests and rural areas of mainly central and eastern India.

The guerrillas, who say they are fighting for the rights of tribal people and landless farmers, often collect funds through extortion.

The Maoists are believed to be present in at least 20 states but are most active in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra, occupying thousands of square kilometres (miles) of land.

The decades-long insurgency is believed to have cost tens of thousands of lives, with much action focused around the insurgent-dominated, so-called “Red Corridor” stretching through central and eastern India.

Critics believe attempts to end the revolt through tough security offensives are doomed to fail, saying the real solution is better governance and development of the region.

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