//Maoist rebels seize train in India – loot cash, firearms

Maoist rebels seize train in India – loot cash, firearms

dpa German Press Agency, Sunday December 10, 2006

New Delhi- Armed Maoist rebels seized a train in eastern India on Sunday but abandoned it later, avoiding a confrontation with the police, officials and reports said. The Maoists had taken control of the Tata-Kharagpur train on the border of eastern Jharkhand and West Bengal states, after disarming railway policemen and snatching wireless equipment from the driver, a railways spokesman said.

But they fled from the scene as police teams reached the area, senior police officer Pankaj Darat told the PTI news agency.

The rebels had earlier issued threats to blow up the train if their demands, which they did not specify, were not met, police said.

The Maoists looted the salary of the railway staff amounting to 100,000 rupees (2,237 dollars) being carried by railway employees, as well as railway police rifles, local news outlets reported.

Some panic-stricken passengers had earlier jumped from the train fearing for their lives, but none sustained major injuries, officials said.

The Maoists have been targeting the railway infrastructure in Jharkhand and have blown up railway posts and tracks in the past few months.

Maoist guerrillas are active in 16 of the 22 districts of the state. More than 600 people including 250 security personnel have been killed in the last five years in Maoist-related violence in the state.

The rebels are fighting to install communism in India and are active in 13 of the country's 28 states, including Jharkhand.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency