Page last updated at 04:55 GMT, Monday, 28 December 2009

India Maoists blamed for attack on school

Maoist rebels in Chhattisgarh
There has been a surge in Maoist violence in recent months

Maoist rebels in the eastern Indian state of Bihar have attacked a school building, police say.

They said about 200 rebels surrounded the school in Aurangabad district, and damaged parts of it using dynamite. There were no casualties.

Separately, rebels in Orissa state have blown up a mobile phone tower and burnt buses, demanding the removal of security forces from the area.

Maoist rebels are fighting for communist rule in many Indian states.

More than 6,000 people have died during the rebels' 20-year fight.

The Maoists accuse the government of using school buildings to house troops involved in anti-rebel operations.

More than 40 schools have been attacked in the past year in Bihar and Jharkhand.

Offensive plan

Human rights groups say tens of thousands of India's most marginalised children are having their education disrupted because of the conflict.

Last month, the federal government said it was ready to launch a massive offensive against the rebels.

The Maoists say they are willing to talk if the plan is suspended.

Nearly 600 civilian have died in violence blamed on the Maoists January and August, according to official records.

The insurgents wield most influence in areas which are poor and dominated by tribes people.

They are also areas widely seen as being rich in mineral wealth which the Maoists say is being handed over to corporate firms while the poor remain deprived.

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