NEW DELHI – At least seven suspected Naxalites or Maoist guerrillas died Wednesday in an Indian police operation in the western state of Maharashtra after the insurgents allegedly killed five civilians and two policemen recently, police sources told EFE.
Special Inspector General of Police (Anti-Naxal Operations) Sharad Shelar said that the guerrillas died in the operation that started at midnight and involved 50 members of the C60 Special Forces.
Shelar did not provide more data saying it was still too early to provide details.
He said, however, that members of this guerrilla group had killed seven people in the last 10 days, including two police officers, and wounded five others in different parts of the area.
The Naxalite movement – named after its emergence from a revolt in a village in Bengal called Naxalbari in 1967 – seeks to impose an agrarian, Maoist revolution and remains active after 50 years of operations especially in the red belt, the strip of territory that runs through central and eastern India.
In the neighboring state of Chhattisgarh, in late May, 25 members of the Central Reserve Police Force were killed in a Maoist ambush in one of the worst attacks on security forces in recent years.
Human rights activists and organizations such as Amnesty International, however, have criticized the excessive use of police force in places like Bastar, Chhattisgarh triggering further rejection of the government and increased support for the Naxalites among the local population.
According to Indian government data released in May, the Maoist conflict in India caused 12,000 deaths, mostly civilians, over the last few decades, although the past year has seen the insurgency lose strength with an exponential increase in despondent insurgents and a fall in their activities.