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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 March 2007, 05:33 GMT
Eight die in India landmine blast
Chhattisgarh map
Eight people, including six policemen, have been killed in a landmine explosion in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, officials said.

The people killed were travelling in a truck when the blast took place on Thursday, they said.

Dantewada is a stronghold of left-wing Maoist rebels. Thousands have died in their campaigns in central and southern India in the past 30 years.

The Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of the poor.

They have a strong presence in eight of 16 districts of Chhattisgarh state.

Last month, five security personnel died in a landmine explosion in the Dantewada district.

Civil militia

The rebels in the area often target local people taking part in a civil militia called Salwa Judum that is supported by the state government. It was launched a year and a half ago to fight the Maoists.

Maoist rebels in India
The Maoists run their own administrations in some areas

In the past, the rebels have attacked government-run camps for villagers and burnt down their huts.

The government set up the camps after the authorities launched an operation against the rebels whom they accuse of killing and kidnapping villagers.

The police say more than 50,000 people live in the camps - mostly tribes people from 600 villages.

The militants are known as Naxalites after the district where their Maoist-inspired movement was born in the late 1960s.

They say they are fighting for the rights of indigenous people and the rural, landless poor.

They have become so powerful in some districts they run their own parallel administrations and justice systems, our correspondent says.

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