RAIPUR: Maoist rebels ambushed a convoy Tuesday in a restive Indian state, killing two police officers and a journalist from the national broadcaster covering the lead up to local elections next month.
The cameraman was riding on the back of a motorcycle driven by a police officer in a remote stretch of Chhattisgarh state in central India when their convoy was attacked by armed men.
Police said the shooters were Maoist guerrillas who have been waging a long-running insurgency against Indian rule in a forested belt of the country dubbed the “red corridor”.
“A sub-inspector, a constable and a cameraman have been killed,” Ratan Lal Dangi, a senior state police officer, told AFP.
Two others were injured in the attack.
National broadcaster Doordarshan confirmed one of its cameramen had been killed in the attack.
The deputy head of operations against the Maoists, P. Sunder Raj, said additional forces had been rushed to the scene.
“It is a developing situation and more forces are going to the spot. We will get more information about it once the team comes back,” he told reporters.
Last week, Maoists blew up a military vehicle in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district, killing four soldiers.
The state has been governed by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for 15 years. The Maoists have urged voters to boycott next month’s polls.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, who is seeking a fourth term, has blamed the rebels for impeding development projects in the state.
The Maoists are believed to be present in at least 20 states across India but are most active in remote parts of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra, where much of the population remains mired in poverty and lacks access to critical services.
The guerrillas, who say they are fighting for the rights of tribal groups and landless farmers, often collect funds through extortion.
The decades-old insurgency is believed to have cost tens of thousands of lives. Critics say the government’s attempts to end the revolt through a no-holds-barred military offensive is doomed to fail.
India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Tuesday the government was “responding in a befitting manner” to the rebels.
“Attack on the police and the press in any manner is heinous,” he tweeted.
India, the world’s largest democracy, is placed 138th out of 180 on a global press freedom ranking by Reporters Without Borders.
India was placed 14th in the world on a Committee to Project Journalists list released Monday that ranked countries on their record of prosecuting those who murder reporters. —AFP