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Rebels kill man in Koraput

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 13: A middle-aged man was hacked to death by suspected Maoists at Odipentha village in Naryanpatna block of Koraput district, about 600km from here, police said today.

A group of about 20 armed persons barged into the house of Komulu Maniaka around 9pm yesterday and attacked him with axes.

Kumulu died on the spot, said his wife Palai adding that the assailants were dressed like the Maoists.

The incident comes a day after security forces gunned down a rebel in the neighbouring Malkangiri district. The attackers of Komulu, however, left behind no posters, the usual practice followed by the Maoists.

Palai said her husband had no enemies. She even pleaded with the Maoists to spare her husband, but her pleas fell on deaf ears. This is the third killing by the radicals in Koraput district in the past one-week.

While they killed a farmer at Jaguguda village on Saturday after forcibly taking him out of his house, in another incident on Tuesday they slit the throat of a trader, an alleged police informer at Balipeta village in the Narayanpatna area of the district.

Sources said Maoists have stepped up their activities in Malkangiri and Koraput districts in a bid to re-establish their slackening hold on these areas where a number of their cadres have either surrendered or been killed in the past few months.

The rebels had suffered a major blow in September last year when police gunned down 13 of them in an encounter in Malkangiri district close to Chhattisgarh border.

Malkangiri superintendent of police, Akhileshwar Singh, who has since then kept the heat on the Maoists, led the operation.

The state government has chalked up an elaborate plan to step up its anti-Maoist operation with focus on the four southern Odisha districts of Koraput, Malkangiri, Rayagada and Gajpati.

While the first two districts continue to be formidable Maoist bastions, rebels have been lying low in Rayagada and Gajapati for past sometime. However, the government is not willing to take any chances given rebels’ potential for trouble even in these districts, which share borders with Andhra Pradesh.

Another major cause of concern for the state police is the emergence of Balangir and Nuapada in western Odisha as new Maoist bases. The Maoists, with the active support of cadres from neighbouring Chhattisgarh, have executed several killings in Nuapada in the last two years.