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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Police kill six Maoists, arrest three in central Indian state

RAIPUR, India (AFP) - Indian police shot dead six Maoist guerrillas and arrested three others in a raid on a rebel hideout in central India, police said.

The six died in a fierce shootout late Wednesday with police in a forested area north of Raipur, capital of the tiny state of Chhattisgarh, police said.

A woman Maoist rebel was among the three arrested in the raid in Dantewada district, one of the areas worst hit in the state by insurgent activities, inspector general T.J. Lonkumer said on Thursday.

More than 175 people -- including security personnel, Maoists and civilians -- have been killed in a wave of violence since January in Chhattisgarh.

An estimated 50,000 villagers, caught in the conflict between the rebels and security forces, have fled their homes and taken refuge in 27 government relief camps.

The Maoists -- who have taken control of 10 of Chhattisgarh's 16 impoverished districts -- say they are fighting for the rights of poor and landless farmers.

The Maoists are reported to be active in 15 of India's 29 states as the insurgency has gained ground in India.

The conflict however is believed to be the deadliest in Chhattisgarh where security forces have gone on the offensive, tracking down Maoists in forests, helped by government-assisted defence forces in villages, as they seek to wipe out rebel support in the countryside.
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