| NEW DELHI
NEW DELHI Nov 24 Security forces likely
killed the top military commander of India's Maoist rebels in an
eastern jungle on Thursday, the government said, striking a
major blow to fighters who control large, impoverished but
mineral-rich swathes of the country.
The government describes the guerrilla movement as India's
biggest internal security threat.
Koteshwar Rao, known as Kishenji, was held responsible for
the death of dozens of police. The interior ministry confirmed a
man was killed in a fire-fight during an operation to capture
"Officers on the spot said it was Maoist leader Kishenji ...
99 percent sure it was Kishenji," Home Secretary RK Singh told
the PTI news agency.
The rebel, who evaded capture during three decades of
fighting to overthrow the state, often appeared with his back to
the camera in news reports, his head covered by a scarf and a
rifle slung over one shoulder.
The Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of poor
peasants and landless labourers, and blame the federal
government for doing little for the welfare of poor tribal
The rebels feed off the resentment of millions of poor
people who have not shared the benefits of the boom in India's
economy, which grew 8.5 percent last year.
They control a narrow forested, mineral-rich belt stretching
over 22 of India's 28 states. But their influence remains
largely restricted to the countryside and small towns.
(Reporting By Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Sophie Hares)