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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 December 2007, 10:43 GMT
Senior Maoist 'arrested' in India
Maoist rebels in Chhattisgarh, File picture
The rebels have a strong presence across large parts of India
A senior Maoist leader has been arrested in the southern Indian state of Kerala, police say.

They say that Malla Raji Reddy was arrested in the town of Angamaly in what they describe as a "big blow" to the Maoist movement.

Mr Reddy was in charge of the rebels in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.

On Sunday over 100 Maoist rebels escaped from a prison in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh.

Thousands of people have died in the course of a 30-year insurgency being fought by the Maoists across a swathe of central and southern India.

The rebels say that they are fighting for the rights of landless farmers and neglected tribes.

Communist state

Police say that Mr Reddy has been underground for over three decades, and is a contemporary of the overall Maoist chief, Ganapathy.

They say that his arrest could inhibit the capability of the Maoists to carry on inflicting attacks against the security forces.

Over the last two years police say they have arrested or killed numerous senior Maoist leaders.

More than 6,000 people have died during the rebels' decades-long fight for a communist state in parts of India.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says the Maoists pose the most serious threat to national security in India.

The rebels operate in 182 districts in India, mainly in the states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal.



SEE ALSO
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Displaced by India's red threat
30 Jun 06 |  South Asia
India faces Maoist 'Red Salute'
21 Jun 06 |  South Asia
India's local anti-Maoist campaign
05 May 06 |  South Asia

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