Maoist violence kills 17

THE first day of polling in India’s general election was disrupted by Maoist violence that left at least 17 people dead.

Voting ended early in all constituencies affected by rebel violence with the remaining areas shut by 5pm local time (1.30pm BST) yesterday. The first of five phases of parliamentary elections was held in 17 states across the country.

The rebels struck early yesterday morning in the state of Jharkand, using landmines that killed at least seven people including five security personnel on election duty, deputy commissioner Sarvendu Tathagat said.

A bus carrying security forces was blown up by the improvised explosive device (IED) blast. The Maoist rebels attacked at least 12 locations over the course of the day including a polling booth in Rohtas district in Bihar.

In two districts in Orissa and Chhattisgarh, they blocked roads and cut off access to polling booths.

The rebels also snatched voting machines from two booths in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewara district and killed six security personnel in a landmine explosion elsewhere. Two polling officials were also reported dead in a landmine strike, while a paramilitary trooper was shot dead during crossfire in the same state.

An election officer’s vehicle was blown up by another landmine and five polling officers were reportedly killed when the Maoists detonated explosives in two districts.

The rebellion was active across many constituencies that went to the polls including those in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharasthra, Jharkhand and Bihar.

In neighbouring Bihar, a policeman and a home guard on election duty were shot dead, while there were also reports of gun battles, raided booths and voters being attacked.

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