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India election: Police kill Maoist rebels in Chhattisgarh

April 3, 2024

The latest action against Maoist insurgents is possibly the biggest anti-Naxal operation carried out in India in recent years. It comes just ahead of the national elections.

Maoist rebels holding guns
The gunfight between the security forces and the rebels lasted for about 14 hours, local officials saidImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M Quraishi

Indian police said on Wednesday that they had killed 13 Maoist insurgents in the central state of Chhattisgarh, in the run-up to India's general election.

The latest police encounter, which according to the police lasted for 14 hours, brought the total number of Maoists killed this year to 50.

The anti-naxal operation comes just a couple of weeks before the region is set to vote in the upcoming national elections, which are taking place over several weeks as different regions take part in a staggered vote.

According to the police, the clash between the rebel group and the security forces took place in Chhattisgarh state's Bijapur district on Tuesday.

"The identity of the Maoist dead bodies is yet to be established," local police chief P. Sundarraj told AFP news agency.

Three of the killed Maoists were women, he added.

Following the operation, police seized a stock of rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers and ammunition.

What is the long-standing Maoist conflict in India?

The Maoist insurgents also known as Naxalites, are a rebel group in India who say they are fighting for the rights of the rural poor.

The rebels take their name from the Naxalbari, a village outside Kolkata where the revolt against the Indian government began in 1967.

The insurgents have carried out guerilla attacks since then and are seen as a security threat by the Indian government.

The Indian government claims to have limited the presence of insurgents to 45 districts in 2023, down from 96 in 2010.

India has deployed tens of thousands of troops to combat Maoist rebels across the insurgent-dominated "Red Corridor" which runs across central, southern and eastern states.

Tuesday's operation was the biggest anti-naxal operation since 2017 when eight Maoists were killed in a forest, Indian newspaper The Indian Express reported.

India election to start on April 19

mfi/ab (AFP, EFE)