Page last updated at 13:51 GMT, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

India train stranded after attack

By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

File picture of train in India
A local militia had called an indefinite strike over alleged police atrocities

Hundreds of passengers are stranded in the middle of a jungle in India's West Bengal state after gunmen kidnapped the driver of an express train.

A team of policemen trying to reach the marooned train has come under heavy fire from gunmen and fighting is continuing, police say.

A militia affiliated with Indian Maoist rebels has claimed responsibility for the abduction.

More than 6,000 people have died during the Maoists' 20-year insurgency.

They say they are fighting for the rights of the poor and landless.

'Train surrounded'

A group of armed men, faces covered with towels, stormed into the Rajdhani Express train from Delhi to Bhubaneswar in Orissa after the signal turned red, and abducted the driver.

The train remained stranded near Banstala village, surrounded by hundreds of tribespeople, officials said.

But at least one police driver has been injured as fighting continued between rebels and police attempting to reach the train.

Asit Mahato, leader of the Kanu-Siddhu militia, said to be close to Maoist rebels, has claimed responsibility for stopping the train and taking the driver away.

The militia has called an indefinite strike to protest about alleged police atrocities against local tribespeople in West Bengal's Junglemahal region where security forces launched a huge offensive against the Maoists in June.

"Why should trains ply when we have called a strike? If they do, we will do all to stop them," Mr Mahato said.

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