//Police shoot dead 11 Maoists in Andhra Pradesh

Police shoot dead 11 Maoists in Andhra Pradesh

Fri Apr 28, 2006 7:09 PM IST166, HYDERABAD, India (Reuters) –

Police in Andhra Pradesh said they had shot dead 11 Maoist rebels, including six women, on Friday after the guerrillas attacked a jungle patrol.

The gun battle took place in the forests of Kadapa, about 425 km south of Hyderabad, Y. Nagi Reddy, a top police officer, said.

He said rebels opened fire on a team of Greyhound commandos — a specialist police force formed to fight the Maoists — as it neared a guerrilla training camp.

State police chief Swaranjit Sen said 19 Maoists had managed to escape after a gun battle. Police had seized dozens of rockets, several mines, guns, ammunition and Maoist literature, he added.

Indian Maoists, who hold sway over vast tracts of the countryside in the east, south and centre, claim to fight for the rights of poor peasants and landless labourers. Their main targets are the security forces and political opponents.

Their revolt has been going on for three decades now and, in Andhra Pradesh, nearly 600 people — about 300 Maoists, 250 civilians and 50 policemen — have been killed in clashes since January 2005 when a truce collapsed.

In a separate incident in neighbouring Chhattisgarh state — a hotbed of the Maoist revolt — at least five policemen were seriously wounded in a mine attack by suspected Maoists on Friday, police said.

The state’s interior minister said that the bullet-ridden bodies of two of 40 villagers reported kidnapped by Maoists were found in the forests of rebel-infested Bastar region.

The villagers, who belong to a government-sponsored anti-Maoist movement called Salwa Judum (Campaign for Peace), were seized earlier this week.

(Additional reporting by Sujeet Kumar in RAIPUR)