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Terrorism & Security

India claims success against Maoist rebels

Indian officials search for Naxalites responsible for Friday's attack amid skepticism about rebel group's threat.

By / February 18, 2008



Indian officials are claiming some success in the government's response to a surprise Maoist raid on Friday, in which 13 police officers were killed and more than 1,000 weapons were seized by rebel insurgents. Fighting persisted Monday in Orissa state, where the attack took place. But even with the most recent violence, Indian officials disagree about the group's security threat nationally.

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The Maoist rebels, also known as Naxalites, after the village of Naxalbari where the movement was born, have been waging their campaign since the 1960s. Inspired by Mao Zedong, they operate in India's rural areas, and seek to distribute land and jobs to the local poor.

The Associated Press reports that the Indian government in the eastern state of Orissa said Sunday that 20 Maoist rebels were killed during military sweeps in search of those who launched Friday's attack.

The skirmishes followed the carefully coordinated rebel attacks Friday night on four police stations, a training academy, and an armory in Orissa state's Nayagarh district, that killed 13 police officers, a village guard and a civilian.
"We have received reports of the elimination of 20 Maoists. The reports are being confirmed," T.K. Mishra, home secretary of the Orissa state government, told reporters Sunday night. He gave no other details. "We have also lost three security personnel," Mishra added.
The search operations and fighting continued Monday in forested areas in five districts of the state, said Gopal Chandra Nanda, the director general of the state police. The area is about 1,100 miles southeast of New Delhi.
About 400 militants took part in the attacks Friday and stole roughly 1,000 weapons, Nanda had said earlier.

The BBC adds that an official said that the police had recovered 115 rifles and half a truckload of ammunition.

The Times of India writes that Friday's Maoist raid caught the town of Nayagarh "napping." The town had never been targeted by Maoists before, leaving it largely unprepared and undefended.

Having planned their 'Operation 22' with clinical precision — the extremists, eyewitnesses said, entered the district headquarters at different times on Friday. And, like their previous spine-chilling offensives in Koraput (2004) and R-Udayagiri (2006), they executed their plan with impunity, killing hapless cops and leaving Orissa's anti-Naxalite preparations thoroughly exposed....
While the choice of Nayagarh was perhaps because of poor police presence and its proximity to Gajapati and Kandhamal districts, another possible reason, not lost on the cops, is that Nayagarh is the home district of dreaded Naxal leader and Orissa's top terrorist, Sabyasachi Panda.
The only other Maoist incident here was a postcard addressed to the collector in November 2005. Never had the district administration admitted that Maoists were making inroads although the media has been writing about it.

The Telegraph of Calcutta offers a diagram of the rebels' attack.

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