Indian authorities say Maoist insurgents attacked a government relief camp in the central state of Chhattisgarth, killing at least twenty-five people and wounding more than twenty others. More than four-hundred insurgents reportedly took part in the attack on the Dantewada district camp, which houses more than four-thousand internally displaced people. Some fifty-thousand Indians have fled to such camps to escape attacks by the Maoist rebels.
The Maoists are known as Naxalites after the Naxalbari region in eastern India, where the insurgency began nearly forty years ago. Nearly six-thousand people have been killed in Maoist violence in India during the past twenty years. According to the Indian government, more than three-thousand of these deaths occurred between 2002 and March 2006.
Indian Home Minister Shivraj Patil told India's parliament that the number of Maoist rebels has doubled during the past five years to more than nine-thousand. In its latest report on terrorism, the U.S. State Department says India's Maoist insurgency "is growing in sophistication and lethality and may pose a significant long-term challenge." Indian officials say the rebels have modern assault rifles, grenade launchers, mines, mortars, and explosive devices.
To meet the growing threat, India has stepped up anti-terrorism training for local police and formed a civil militia, called Salwa Judum. "Many in the Salwa Judum have personal experience of terror from the Naxalites," says Madhukar Rao, a former schoolteacher who now leads the civil militia.
India also has other terrorist groups to deal with. In recent years, separatists have staged hundreds of attacks, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, where more than five-hundred civilians were killed during 2004 alone. The Indian police continue to investigate the recent bombings of commuter trains in Mumbai and grenade attacks in Srinagar, Kashmir.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says, "those responsible for these terrible acts should be swiftly brought to justice." The United States," says Ms. Rice, "stands with India in the war against terror."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.