NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Maoist rebels attacked a passenger train in Bihar on Thursday, killing three people in a daring assault just weeks after the rebels ambushed a convoy of Congress politicians in Chhattisgarh.
"Three people are dead including one RPF (Railway Protection Force) staff and two passengers," Amitabh Prabhakar, the railway spokesman for the region, told Reuters by telephone.
"Five people are injured; all are civilians," said Shashikant Tiwary, district magistrate for Jamui, where the attack took place.
Media reports said up to 100 armed Maoists, including women, held up the intercity express between Jamui and Bhalui stations for more than an hour.
Tiwary told Reuters the Maoists snatched three firearms, including an AK-47 rifle, from the guards on the train.
There were up to 150 passengers on board when the attack took place, Prabhakar said.
The Maoists, who say they are fighting for the rights of the poor and landless and want to overthrow the government, have stepped up attacks in recent months. The latest attack will put further pressure on the Congress party-led government to bring in the military to tackle the insurgency.
In May, the Maoist rebels ambushed a convoy of Congress politicians in Chhattisgarh, killing at least 27 people. Former Congress minister V.C. Shukla was injured in the attack and died of his wounds this week.
In 2010, the rebels were blamed for sabotaging a crowded high-speed train in West Bengal, killing scores of passengers and injuring at least 200 people.
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.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the Maoist insurgency as India's biggest internal security challenge.
(Additional reporting by India Online team; Writing by Tony Tharakan)
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