Maoist rebels kill 24 police in eastern India

CALCUTTA: Maoist rebels detonated land mines and set a security outpost ablaze in eastern India, killing at least 24 policemen in the worst-ever attack on police in the restive area.

An additional seven officers were wounded in the brazen assault Monday by more than 100 communist fighters, who also stole weapons from the security post in Shilda village of West Bengal state, said district magistrate N.S. Nigam.

”Never before the police here have suffered so many losses in one attack,” Surajit Kar Purkayastha, a police inspector-general, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Shilda is about 105 miles (170 kilometers) southwest of state capital, Calcutta. A total of 51 police officers were in the camp at the time of the attack, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

Nigam said the camp was close to a bustling market, and the rebels struck when a large number of people were shopping in the area.

Kishenji, a top Maoist leader in the area, claimed responsibility for the attack in a call to a local television station. He said it was in retaliation for a recent security crackdown against the rebels.

Police reinforcements scoured the area Tuesday for the assailants who fled after the assault, Nigam said.—AP

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