Suspected Maoists kill 19 in Congress convoy ambush

NEW DELHI Sun May 26, 2013 7:24pm IST

1 of 3. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (2nd R) and Sonia Gandhi (R), chief of Congress party, meet with victims injured in an ambush on Saturday, at a hospital in Raipur May 26, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

Related Topics

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Suspected Maoist rebels killed at least 19 people in Chhattisgarh when they ambushed a convoy carrying regional leaders from the ruling Congress party in dense forest on Saturday, officials said, one of the deadliest such attacks in recent years.

The rebels felled trees to block the 20-car convoy and then detonated a landmine and raked the vehicles with gunfire, Indian media reported.

Among those killed was Mahendra Karma, a senior Congress leader from Chhattisgarh who founded an anti-Maoist group and was believed to be the main target of the attack. The state's Congress party leader and his son were also killed.

Senior Chhattisgarh police official Mukesh Gupta told Reuters by telephone six policemen were among the dead and that 35 people were also wounded in the ambush.

Police had earlier put the death toll as high as 27 but that had been revised down, Gupta said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the attack and said his government would take firm action. Singh, who flew to Chhattisgarh with Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi on Sunday, has called the Maoists the greatest domestic threat to India.

The rebels, also known as Naxals, have fought for decades in a wide swathe of central and eastern India, including many resource-rich regions where tensions run high between poor farmers and industrial developers.

They are estimated to number between 6,000 and 8,000 hardcore fighters in nearly a third of India's 630 districts. While they have made few inroads into cities, they have spread into rural pockets in 20 of 28 states.

Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of poor farmers and landless labourers. Thousands have been killed in the insurgency since the late 1960s.

In the worst previous Maoist attack, an ambush by hundreds of rebels killed 75 policemen in Chhattisgarh in 2010.

Television reports said scores of rebels trapped the convoy in a forest in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, about 340 km (210 miles) south of the state capital Raipur, on Saturday. The Congress politicians had been returning from a rally.

"When our cars reached a turning point, the Naxals started firing. Two cars were blown up and the firing continued for almost one-and-a-half hours," NDTV quoted an injured Congress party worker as saying from hospital.

(Writing by Ross Colvin; Editing by Paul Tait)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

School Shooting

School Shooting

Two killed, four wounded in Washington state school shooting.  Full Article 

Sundar Pichai Elevated

Sundar Pichai Elevated

Google's Pichai to oversee major products and services.  Full Article 

Need For Reforms

Need For Reforms

Euro zone risks "relapse into recession" without structural reforms - Draghi.  Full Article 

Diwali Sales

Diwali Sales

Gold sales jump about 20 pct for Diwali - trade body  Full Article 

World Bank Rival

World Bank Rival

Three major nations absent as China launches W.Bank rival in Asia  Full Article 

Wal-Mart India

Wal-Mart India

Murali Lanka appointed as Wal-Mart India operations chief  Full Article 

Health Of Lenders

Health Of Lenders

25 European banks set to fail health checks - sources.  Full Article 

Special Report

Special Report

Why Madrid's poor fear Goldman Sachs and Blackstone  Full Article 

India Insight

India Insight

Kalki Koechlin on her role as a disabled girl in “Margarita, With a Straw”  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage