Indian security forces kill at least 12 Maoist rebels in gunbattle

By Thomson Reuters May 10, 2024 | 9:49 AM

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian security forces killed at least 12 Maoist rebels in a gun battle in central India on Friday, the chief minister of Chhattisgarh state said, the third major encounter in recent weeks amid ongoing national elections.

The rebels, who follow a form of communism propagated by late Chinese leader Mao Zedong, have waged a guerrilla-style struggle against the government mainly in central and eastern India for decades, leading to periodic clashes and casualties on both sides.

Chief Minister Vishnu Deo Sai said security forces had killed 12 rebels in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur.

Friday’s clash comes nearly a month after 29 Maoists were killed in the state, while 10 others were killed on April 30.

Maoists say they are fighting to give poor Indian farmers and landless labourers more control over their land and a greater claim to minerals that they say are exploited by major mining companies.

Polling for all seats in the state was completed in the third phase of the general election on May 7.

Votes are due to be counted on June 4.

Indian Home Minister Amit Shah, while campaigning in Chhattisgarh last month, vowed to eliminate insurgency from the state within three years if Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is voted back into power.

(Reporting by Tanvi Mehta in New Delhi and Jatindra Dash in Bhubaneswar; Editing by Nick Macfie)