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Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Sunday, 29 June 2008 13:13 UK

Rebels sink Indian police launch

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Forty police officers are feared drowned in eastern India after a police motor boat capsized after coming under attack from a suspected Maoist rebels.

More than 50 members of an elite anti-insurgency force were aboard the boat, which was patrolling the Chitrakonda reservoir in Orissa state.

The suspected rebels - who have been fighting the Indian government for decades - opened fire from a hilltop.

Eight of the officers managed to swim to the shore, but 40 are still missing.

A local Superintendent of Police, Satish Kumar Gajbhiye, told the BBC there were about 60 men on the boat - four of them, including two drivers of the motor launch, from the Orissa police force. The rest were from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.

Four of the survivors had gunshot injuries and were being treated in hospital, he added.

A rescue operation involving fire brigade personnel and helicopters has been launched.

But the BBC's Sandeep Sahu says that the water level in the sprawling reservoir is about 40m (131ft), and there is little chance of any survivors being found.

He adds that the incident is one of the biggest setbacks for security forces fighting insurgents in the thickly forested border areas of Andhra Pradesh, long considered a safe haven for the Maoists.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the Maoist uprising as the biggest internal security threat the country faces.




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Aftermath of the Maoist attack



SEE ALSO
Indian Maoists kill 14 in Orissa
16 Feb 08 |  South Asia
Maoists 'kill four Indian police'
27 Feb 07 |  South Asia
India rebels free train captives
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India plans anti-Maoist strategy
19 Sep 05 |  South Asia
Indian state bans Maoist groups
05 Sep 05 |  South Asia
India's Maoist revolutionaries
08 Apr 04 |  South Asia

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