Specially trained police and elite paramilitary forces are moving
against Maoist rebels holding several villages in a remote part of
Indian officials Thursday sent hundreds of troops into the remote and
heavily-forested Lalgarh area of West Bengal state despite resistance
from villagers who were helping the Maoists set up roadblocks.
Witnesses say police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse sympathizers.
Police officials accused the Maoists of using women and children as
human shields but said they would try to recapture the area, about 170
kilometers from Kolkata, while minimizing any bloodshed.
Indian authorities accuse the Maoists of killing at least five members of the region's ruling communist party, the Communist Party of India-Marxist, earlier this week.
They also say members of a Maoist-backed tribal group have set fire to police stations.
In a separate incident, Indian police accused Maoist rebels of killing
at least nine policemen with a landmine in the neighboring state of
The Maoist rebels are part of a wider group of insurgents known as Naxalites who say they fight for the rights of the poor.
Communist Party politburo member Sitaram Yechury, speaking in New
Delhi, told reporters he is optimistic Indian forces will regain
control quickly. But the Maoist's purported military commander,
Koteshwar Rao, known as Kishanji, says his forces are entrenched and
have the support of some 2,000 villagers.
Many farmers in West Bengal have been angered by plans to build large
industrial plants in rural areas. Tuesday, suspected Maoist rebels
killed at least four policemen in a gun battle in the neighboring state
The Naxalites are active in at least 13 of India's 29 states. Their decades-long insurgency has left thousands dead.