Mon, Apr 23, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Indian government official kidnapped by Maoist rebels

AFP, RAIPUR, INDIA

Maoist rebels in India have taken a government official hostage and killed his two bodyguards in the central state of Chhattisgarh, police said yesterday, in the latest of a series of kidnappings.

The guerrillas shot the two guards dead when capturing Alex Paul Menon on Saturday as he toured a village in Sukma district, 320km from the state capital Raipur, police said.

Menon, 32, is Sukma’s district collector, a role that makes him the most senior civil servant in the area.

“It is a very unfortunate incident, and the government will do everything to secure the release of the collector,” Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh told reporters.

Menon’s kidnapping comes 10 days after Maoists in the neighboring state of Orissa released an Italian tour guide whom they had held hostage for nearly a month. The Italian was freed after some prisoners were released.

A state assembly lawmaker also remains in captivity after being kidnapped in Orissa last month.

The Maoists have in the past kidnapped government officials and police officers to raise ransom payments and negotiate other demands. Most hostages have been released unharmed, but some have been killed.

Chhattisgarh is one of several states where Maoist guerrillas, who claim to be inspired by former Chinese leader Mao Zedong (毛澤東) and say they are fighting for the rights of poor tribal communities and farmers, have waged a decades-long battle to overthrow state and national authorities.

The government describes the Maoist movement, which often targets police and soldiers with deadly roadside mine ambushes, as India’s biggest internal security threat.

The insurgency, 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.

Additional reporting by AP

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