South Asia

India: Maoist attack kills four troops in Chhattisgarh

Rebels training in Jharkhand in February 2010
Image caption India's Maoist insurgency began in the late 1960s, in the remote forests of West Bengal state.

A landmine blast by suspected Maoist rebels in India's Chhattisgarh state has killed four paramilitary troops and injured several others, police said.

Forces from Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), one of India's armed police units, were travelling through conflict-torn Bastar region when their vehicle hit a mine.

The mine had been planted in the middle of a road on the national highway.

Maoist rebels say they are fighting for the rights of indigenous tribal people and the rural poor.

Police told the BBC's Salman Ravi in Raipur that the troops were on their way from the volatile district of Dantewada to Jagdalpur town when their vehicle hit the mine.

"This unit was deployed for anti-Maoist operations in Dantewada," police officer Surjit Singh said.

"The blast was powerful and the vehicle has been badly damaged."

Mr Singh said five of the injured were taken to the local government hospital and the seriously injured would be flown to Raipur, the state capital.

The Maoists are active in several eastern and central states. In one of the most deadly attacks in Chhattisgarh last year, they killed 74 policemen in Dantewada district.

A government offensive against the rebels - widely referred to as Operation Green Hunt - began in late 2009.

It involves 50,000 troops and is taking place across five states - West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa and Chhattisgarh.

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