Indian Maoist rebels kill 11 in Election Day attacks

NEW DELHI: At least 11 people, including nine Indian paramilitary troopers, were killed Thursday in Election Day attacks by Maoist rebels across the east of the country, officials said.

In Jharkhand state, a hotbed of Maoist activity, the rebels set off a landmine and ambushed a bus carrying security forces for duty at polling stations.

Seven soldiers and two civilians died in the attack, police spokesman S.N. Pradhan told reporters from Latehar district, 140 kilometers (87 miles) from the state capital Ranchi and the scene of a string of deadly Maoist attacks in recent days.

In neighboring Bihar state, two security personnel were shot dead and another wounded by the rebels in Gaya district, Indian media reported.

And in Chattisgarh state, several gun battles were reported to be raging in Bijapur and Dantewada districts, part of a densely forested region that serves as the main base of the left-wing rebels.

Jharkhand, Bihar and Chattisgarh among several parts of India voting Thursday in the first stage of a month-long general election.

Polling in areas hit by the Maoist insurgency has been staggered over several phases to ensure adequate deployment of security personnel.

India’s Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of neglected tribal people and landless farmers.

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