The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Maoists say sorry, snatch cops

Hyderabad/Raipur, March 12: Maoists have apologised to the tribals of Chhattisgarh for the landmine blast on February 28 in which over 30 people died. But the rebels threatened to intensify attacks on a government-backed anti-Naxalite group.

“Our targets were only the special police force and the corrupt Salwa Judum (the government-supported body) activists who were causing havoc in the villages, not the innocent tribals,” according to a statement attributed to Ganapathi alias M. Bhaskar Rao, the secretary of the CPI (Maoist) central committee.

The statement said the Salwa Judum activists had coerced the tribals in Chhattisgarh to join their “alleged peace yatra”.

A truck carrying the peace rallyists was blown up in one of the worst instances of Naxalite violence in the country. The unofficial death toll was put at 50.

“The tribals are happy with the peaceful atmosphere created by the Janata Sarkar (people’s administration) of the Maoists. It is the corrupt Salwa Judum that is provoking them against the Maoists,” the three-page statement released in Hyderabad said.

In Chhattisgarh, the rebels dealt another blow to the government by taking six policemen hostage in a daylight operation in Dantewada district.

The Maoists have demanded immediate withdrawal of security forces, including the Nagaland Armed Police, and an end to the state-sponsored villagers’ campaign for safe release of the hostages.

The six policemen ' four from Dantewada and two from the special armed force ' were travelling from Chintagufa to Dornapal in a private bus when the armed Maoists intercepted them near Kankerlanka, about 100 km from the district headquarters, around 12 noon.

The rebels started checking the vehicle and soon identified the six policemen, who, said sources, were unarmed as they had gone to purchase rations.

The bus, with 29 passengers, was plying between Jagargunda and Dornapal.

Before forcing the policemen inside the forest, the rebels handed over a letter to the bus driver and asked him to take it to Chintagufa police station

The rebels threatened to kill the policemen if the government did not withdraw immediately the forces fighting against them in the state. They also demanded that Salwa Judum, several of whose supporters have been killed so far, be wound up immediately.

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