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Last Updated: Monday, 5 March 2007, 11:20 GMT
'Maoist rebels' shoot Indian MP
Protests by supporters of Sunil Mahato in Ranchi, Jharkhand
Mr Mahato's supporters blocked roads in the state
Suspected Maoists in India's eastern Jharkhand state have shot dead a member of the national parliament, sparking violent protests by his supporters.

Sunil Mahato of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha party was killed watching a football match on Sunday evening.

Hundreds of his supporters took to the streets on Monday, attacking vehicles and setting up blockades. A protest strike caused widespread disruption.

More than 6,000 people have died in 20 years of Maoist violence in Jharkhand.

'Revenge'

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-led government in the state has called for India's top federal detective agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), to lead an investigation into Sunday's shooting.

Sunil Mahato
Mr Mahato's party is an ally of India's ruling Congress party

Two security guards and a party leader were killed along with Mr Mahato when suspected Maoists opened fire at a local football match.

The game had been organised to mark the Hindu festival of Holi near Kishanpur, some 160km (100 miles) east of state capital, Ranchi.

An eyewitness, Sheikh Younus Ali, told the BBC that a female rebel squad had carried out the attack.

He said "the function was going on and suddenly the women members of the squad under the guise of villagers snatched the weapons from the lawmakers' security guards".

Sunil Mahato "tried to escape, but the rebels pumped several bullets into his back... and shouted slogans like 'Long Live Maoism'," he said.

Officials said Mr Mahato and his security guards died at the scene, while a local party leader died on his way to hospital.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda said the attack by Maoists might have been in "revenge" for the government's drive against rebels in the region.

High alert

Normal life in Jharkhand was badly hit by Monday's general strike called by the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, an ally of India's governing Congress party.

Map

Other political parties have also supported the shutdown.

Hundreds of JJM supporters held protests across the state, blocking the national highway and attacking vehicles.

Security forces were put on high alert.

The Maoist movement which began more than three decades ago has spread to a number of Indian states.

The rebels say they are fighting for the rights of poor peasants and landless workers.


SEE ALSO
'Policemen killed' in India blast
01 Jun 06 |  South Asia
Indian states vote amid violence
03 Feb 05 |  South Asia
Indian rebels 'kill 13 villagers'
12 Sep 05 |  South Asia
Indian landmine blast kills 24
04 Sep 05 |  South Asia
Key Indian Maoist groups unite
08 Oct 04 |  South Asia

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