Maoists kill 12 in India poll-related violence

Agence France-Presse . Raipur / New Age Online

Maoist rebels killed 12 people in two poll-related blasts Saturday in an insurgency-hit region of central India, police said, highlighting security worries in the nation’s marathon election.
The attacks came as Indians cast ballots in the southern resort state of Goa and in the far-flung northeast in another round of the multi-phase polls that wind up May 12 with results due May 16.
Six polling team officials were killed when Maoists blew up their bus in the state of Chhattisgarh, senior police officer Gurjinder Pal Singh told AFP.
‘The Maoists triggered the landmine blasts,’ Singh, a key official in ensuring election security in the state, told AFP.
Five security men engaged in an election safety operation and another victim were killed in a separate landmine blast that created a huge crater in the road.
The men were blown up near Darbha, where Maoists massacred the top leadership of the Congress party of Chhattisgarh last May.
The blasts, just an hour apart, came just days after Maoist rebels killed three soldiers guarding polling officials in Chhattisgarh in a gun battle.
The deaths underscored the security challenges facing election organisers in India.
Separatist and Maoist insurgencies afflict large swathes of India’s northeast, northwest and central regions.
The elections, which the opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party are tipped to win, ousting the ruling Congress party after a decade, kicked off earlier in the week.
The vote is held in stages to allow security forces to be moved around the country to protect voters.
In part of Chhattisgarh, polls began on April 10. Two more rounds of voting are scheduled in the state on April 17 and April 24.
Maoist rebels killed 16 people in a massive attack on security forces in central India in March in the deadliest attack so far this year, heightening fears of more unrest in their stronghold.
The Maoists, who have been described by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the country’s most serious internal security threat, have been fighting since 1967 for a communist society by toppling what they call India’s “semi-colonial, semi-feudal” form of rule.
The 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.
The rebels 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.

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