Sunday May 14 2006 00:00 IST, IANS
RAIPUR: Maoist rebels attacked a refugee camp in the restive state of Chhattisgarh early Saturday, killing four Special Police Officers (SPOs) and wounding five others, said a police official.
"Nearly 250-300 heavily armed rebels attacked a refugee camp based at Injeram in revolt-hit Dantewada district. Four SPOs were killed and five others wounded seriously, a senior police officer told IANS.
He added that attack took place at around 3 a.m. Saturday. Nearly 5,000 tribals are living in Injeram refugee camp, 540 km south of state capital Raipur.
Police said that rebels surrounded the camp and opened indiscriminate firing but Nagaland Armed Police (NAP) personnel deployed outside the camp retaliated.
"The NAP personnel and rebels exchanged bullets for two hours, in which several rebels sustained injuries but their comrades took them away into nearby forests", the officer informed.
The Chhattisgarh government has appointed over 3,500 former Maoist rebels and police informers as SPOs. They assist the police and para-military forces in carrying out attacks on rebels' hideout in the thickly forested iron ore-rich Bastar region that includes Dantewada district.
Maoists dominate half of the state's 16 districts and claim that they are fighting for the rights of poor peasants and landless labourers.
Officials admit that Maoist violence has killed at least 140 people, mostly tribal villagers, in the state since January.