South Asia

Indian Maoists 'kill and dismember' 10 policemen

Rebels training in Jharkhand in February 2010
Image caption India's Maoist insurgency began in the late 1960s, in the remote forests of West Bengal state.

Ten policemen, including one senior officer, have been killed and dismembered by Maoist rebels in India's Chhattisgarh state, police say.

The attack reportedly took place in the densely-forested Gariyaband area on the state's border with Orissa.

The bodies of nine policemen were found on Tuesday. Officials say they were shot and then hacked into pieces.

Maoist rebels say they are fighting for the rights of indigenous tribal people and the rural poor.

They are active in several eastern and central states. In one of the most deadly attacks last year, rebels killed 74 policemen in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada district.

India's prime minister has described the Maoist insurgency as the country's biggest internal security challenge.

The team left for a routine patrol on Monday morning and police said they lost contact in the afternoon. After their bodies were discovered on Tuesday, officials said the policemen were first shot and then their bodies were hacked into pieces "by sharp-edged weapons", the BBC's Salman Ravi from Raipur reports.

Correspondents say that certain groups of Maoists have been known to dismember the bodies of their victims.

An inquiry has been launched to find out how such a small number of police ventured into Gariyaband, which is considered to be a Maoist stronghold.

"As per the code of anti-insurgency operations, there has to be a team of not less than 200 when venturing into such difficult areas," an official told the BBC.

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