Friday, August 22, 2008

Maoists attack police in Bihar, eight dead

PATNA, India (Reuters) - At least eight people, including six policemen, were killed in a gunbattle with Maoist rebels in Bihar on Thursday, police said.

A rebel and a civilian were also among those killed when the guerrillas riding motorcycles fired on a police van in the Raniganj area, a Maoist stronghold.

The rebels also made off with some police weapons.

An officer told Reuters the security team walked into a Maoist trap after it was informed that criminals were looting a nearby bank.

"But when the police rushed to the spot, they were attacked," said S.K. Bhardwaj, a chief of anti-Maoist operations.

Bihar is among a dozen states fighting a four-decade old Maoist insurgency that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described as the country's biggest internal security threat.

The Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of poor peasants and landless labourers. They routinely call strikes, attack government property and target politicians and police, mostly in large swathes of rural India's east and south.

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