PATNA, INDIA // Maoist rebels have killed 11 people across an eastern Indian state after their leader died in a gun battle with security forces.
The militants blew up railway tracks at two points in Jharkhand before dawn yesterday in retaliation for the November 24 killing of Koteshwar Rao, alias Kishanji, in the neighbouring state of West Bengal, said police superintendent DV Sharma.
Hours earlier, they attacked a police convoy travelling with a state lawmaker in western Jharkhand, detonating explosives and spraying gunfire that left 10 officers and a boy dead.
Another officer was injured and taken to hospital. The former Jharkhand speaker, Inder Singh Namdhari, escaped unharmed.
The rebels, inspired by the Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting for more than three decades to demand land and jobs for agricultural labourers and the poor.
Called Naxalites, after the West Bengal village of Naxalbari where the movement began in 1967, the premier, Manmohan Singh, has called them the biggest internal threat to India’s security.
Last month, security forces killed Kishanji while searching for rebel leaders in the jungles of West Bengal. They also seized stocks of arms and ammunition.
The rebels have vowed to avenge his death. Left-wing politicians also protested the killing, saying the rebel leader could have been made to surrender.