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Thursday, 16 December, 1999, 13:53 GMT
State minister killed by rebels

Madhya Pradesh state Transport Minister Likhiram Kawre has been killed by suspected left-wing rebels.

His body was discovered in the compound of his house in Balaghat district, according to local police.

One report said he had been attacked with an axe.

The state Home Minister, Nand Kumar Patel, told the BBC that police had recovered a pamphlet from the left-wing People's War Group at the minister's home.

It said he had been murdered in retaliation for the killing earlier in the month of senior People's War Group leaders in a clash with police in the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh.

Police have cordoned off the area while they search for the suspected attackers.

The Press Trust of India news agency said that, although rebel groups were known to be active in the area, it was the first time in the history of Madhya Pradesh that a minister had been killed.

The state government has declared a three-day period of mourning.

Strike call

Meanwhile, at least five people have been killed, and a railway station badly damaged in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, on the second day of a strike called by the People's War Group.

PWG activists attacked and killed five members of a family in a remote village in Nizamabad district.

Police say those killed were tenants in a house belonging to a local politician.

A building destroyed by PWG activists A building destroyed by PWG activists
In another attack, five PWG activists blasted the communications room of a station in the same district.

The group issued the strike call in protest against the killing of three of its senior leaders, earlier this month.

Authorities say the strike has severely affected the state's northern region.

There has been an upsurge in violence in Andhra Pradesh between the PWG and local police, resulting in a series of killings.

The rebels are waging an armed campaign for the creation of a communist state made up of tribal areas in Andhra Pradesh and three other states in India.

Nearly 400 people have been killed this year in clashes in Andhra Pradesh between the police and Naxalites - the term commonly used for left-wing groups - including 31 police officers and 200 Naxalite activists

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10 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Concession to Andhra Pradesh rebels
01 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Four dead in mine blast

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