Indian manhunt for jail escapees
From Rohit Gandhi
YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- India has launched a manhunt for as many as 400 Indian Maoist guerrillas and hundreds of other prisoners who escaped from a jail in Bihar after an attack by the rebels.
The Maoist guerrillas attacked the prison at Jehanabad about 9:15 p.m. Sunday (10:45 a.m. ET) and took about 20 hostages from a rival political party as they retreated, said Ashish Ranjan Sinha, the Dir. Gen. of Police in Bihar state on Monday.
Police think the purpose of the attack was to free Ajay Kanu, the leader of the banned Naxalite (Maoist) guerrilla movement that has battled authorities in Bihar since the late 1960s, Sinha said.
The Sunday night assault left one prisoner and two guards dead and police from around the state
Police are searching a nine- to 13-mile (15 to 20 km) radius around the prison for the hundreds of guerrillas and escapees.
There are no jungles in Bihar so they must be hiding in small villages, Sinha said.
Hundreds of people have gathered outside the facility to find out what happened to relatives held here.
The attack came just after a third round of voting in state elections in Bihar, a poor, remote region where society is still divided along caste lines.
Maoist rebels say they are fighting for the rights of landless laborers and impoverished peasants, and in Bihar, they often clash with private armies of landlords, according to Reuters reports.
They have stepped up attacks recently, with 300 Maoists storming a training center for policemen last wee and killing five cadets in neighboring Jharkhand state, according to Reuters.
There are about 9,300 armed Maoist rebels in the country, Reuters has quoted India's home ministry as saying. The ministry believe they have links with Maoist insurgents in neighboring Nepal who are fighting to overthrow the Himalayan nation's monarchy.
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