11:32 GMT +318 October 2019
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    Indian Forces Ambush Left-Wing Rebel Hideout: at Least 15 Rebels Killed

    © AFP 2019 / Tauseef MUSTAFA
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    Until now, 15 bodies have been recovered and a large number of firearms have also been seized from the site of the encounter. An area committee member who had a bounty on his head has also been arrested, along with an armed female rebel.

    Indian forces have gunned down more than a dozen communist militants in the Sukma district of Chhattisgarh. More than 200 Maoist rebels, or Naxals, as they are most commonly referred to in India, had gathered for a meeting in the Mika Tong forest of Sukma when security forces launched an ambush.

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    "16 weapons were recovered from the encounter site in Mika Tong forest under Konta police station. Personnel of the District Reserve Guard, Special Task Force, and Central Reserve Police Force were combing the area after getting an intelligence report that 200 Maoist had gathered for a meeting. More details are awaited," D.M. Awasthi, special director general of police (anti-Naxal operations), told a news agency.

    On July 19, police claimed to have eliminated eight Maoist rebels in a similar encounter in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district. Earlier in March, nine security personnel were killed in an ambush launched by Naxal militants in the same area of Chattisgarh.

    The Naxals, who follow communist ideologue Mao Zedong's philosophy, is India's largest rebel group. Their movement was originally aimed at  

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    redistributing land to the landless by overthrowing the elite class and the popularly elected government through an armed struggle.

    In 2006, India's intelligence agency estimated that 20,000 armed-cadre Naxalites were operating, in addition to 50,000 regular cadre. Their growing influence prompted the then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to declare them to be the most serious internal threat to India's national security.


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