Maoist rebels kill 4 Indian paramilitary soldiers

PATNA, India (AP) — At least four Indian paramilitary soldiers were killed in a powerful land mine blast triggered by Maoist rebels in their stronghold in central India on Saturday, police said.

Senior police officer D.M. Awasthi said the attack came as Chhattisgarh state prepared for state legislature elections early next month.

Awasthi said the rebels blew up the soldiers’ vehicle as they were patrolling an area near its camp in Bijapur district.

The Press Trust of India news agency said another two soldiers were wounded in the attack.

The Maoist rebels, inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting the Indian government for more than four decades, demanding land and jobs for tenant farmers, the poor and indigenous communities. The government has called the rebels India’s biggest internal security threat.

With thousands of fighters, the rebels control vast swaths of territory spread over several Indian states.

The rebels, also known as Naxalites, have ambushed police, destroyed government offices and abducted officials. They also have blown up train tracks, attacked prisons to free their comrades and stolen weapons from police and paramilitary warehouses.

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