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Page last updated at 07:09 GMT, Monday, 24 August 2009 08:09 UK

India Maoists blow up rail track

Maoist rebels in Chhattisgarh
Maoists have a presence in 182 districts of India

Suspected Maoist rebels have blown up a rail track and bombed a mobile phone tower in India's Jharkhand state.

About 20 rebels blew up the track between Kumundi and Hehegarha stations in Latehar district. Train services were disrupted after the incident.

In Palamu district, nearly 50 rebels blew up a mobile tower with explosives.

The rebels have called a two-day strike from Monday in five states, including Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and West Bengal.

Senior Maoist leader Koteshwar Rao told the BBC the shutdown was called to protest against the arrest of two senior activists last week.

He said the two were held on 19 August while travelling from Ranchi, Jharkhand's capital, to Patna, capital of neighbouring Bihar state.

A senior police officer in Ranchi denied the arrests had been made.

The BBC's Salman Ravi in Ranchi says the strike has affected road traffic with buses, trucks, cars and taxis remaining off the road in Jharkhand.

More than 6,000 people have died during the Maoists' 20-year fight for a communist state in parts of India.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the Maoist insurgency as the "single biggest threat" to India's security.

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

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



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