Nine Indian police 'killed, mutilated 'by Maoists
Suspected Maoist rebels killed at least nine Indian policemen and then mutilated their bodies in a gruesome attack in the eastern state of Orissa, a top police officer said on Tuesday.
The policemen from Raipur, the capital of the neighbouring state of Chhattisgarh, had gone on an anti-Maoist sweep through a remote and forested area near the border with Orissa before coming under attack.
"Police have recovered the bodies of nine security personnel from the gunbattle site and all have been mutilated by the Maoists," a spokesman for Chhattisgarh police, Rajesh Mishra, told AFP.
"The Maoists have done this to create terror among the forces," he added.
A search party has been sent out to try to find a 10th member of the team whose whereabouts are unknown, he said.
Raipur police chief Mukesh Gupta and other police sources told AFP that the victims were ambushed when they were returning from their mission in a tractor after their police jeep had broken down in the forest.
The attack took place 40 kilometres (25 miles) inside Orissa in Nuapada district, about 175 kilometres from Raipur.
On other occasions in the past, the Maoists have either mutilated the bodies or tied land mines on them to frighten other police involved in the fight against the insurgents.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh condemned the attack and told reporters that "the mutilation of bodies has exposed the real face of the left-wing extremists."
The Maoist movement, which began in 1967, feeds off land disputes, police brutality and corruption, and is strongest in the poorest and most deprived areas of India, many of which are rich in natural resources.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called the insurgency India's main internal security threat and has urged state governments to increase welfare measures, especially in Maoist-hit regions, to help counter the ultra-leftists.
Some 171 suspected left-wing guerrillas were killed last year along with 713 civilians in Maoist-linked violence compared to the previous year's tally of 591. A total of 285 policemen also died in 2010.