//Maoist attacks kill 12 policemen in Chattisgarh

Maoist attacks kill 12 policemen in Chattisgarh

Mon Feb 6, 2006 10:52 PM IST164

RAIPUR, India (Reuters) – Maoist rebels killed 12 policemen on Monday in two separate attacks in Chattisgarh, police said. The rebels set off a powerful landmine under the van of a patrol party, killing nine policemen, senior police officer M.W Ansari told Reuters.

Eight policemen were also wounded in the attack in Dantewada district, 480 km south of Raipur, he said. In another incident, Maoists raided a police station in Jashpur district, about 450 km north of Raipur, and shot dead three policemen and wounded five, district police chief Purshotam Gautam said.

The Maoists, who have a strong presence in many of the state’s 16 districts, have stepped up violent attacks in the past several days, police said. Last week, they killed eight civilians in an attack on a government relief camp for tribal people. Three Maoists were also killed when police returned fire.

More than 9,000 Maoist rebels operate in at least nine Indian states, mainly in the country’s east and south, officials say. The Maoists, who hold sway over vast rural areas of eastern and southern India, claim they are fighting for the rights of landless labourers and poor peasants, many of them tribesmen.

Their main targets are police and paramilitary forces.