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Wednesday, November 26, 2008
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Bridge blast kills 5 Indian police officers

Suspected communist rebels blew up a bridge in India's restive east yesterday, killing five police officers who were escorting election officials, police said.

The election officials were not harmed in the blast, which also left one police officer wounded, said Amarnath Upadhyaya, an inspector-general of police. Officials from India's Election Commission are in the region to hold polls for the state legislature.The rebels triggered the land mine as the police were walking across the bridge in Bastar district in Chattisgarh state, said Upadhyaya. The rebels then escaped into a forested area.

The rebels, who claim to be inspired by Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong, have been fighting for more than two decades in several eastern Indian states, demanding land and jobs for agricultural laborers and the poor. Thousands of people have been killed in the violence.

The rebels often target police and government officials, whom they accuse of colluding with landlords and rich farmers to exploit the poor.

The Golaband area where Tuesday's attack occurred is more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres) southeast of the capital, New Delhi.

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