India names mediators for talks on Italian hostages

Undated photograph shows Italian natiional  Bosusco Paolo posing with tribal women at an undisclosed location in India.

Story highlights

  • Maoists want troop pullout and release of jailed rebels, official says
  • Bosusco Paolo and Claudio Colangelo were kidnapped March 14
  • They are believed to be the first Westerners kidnapped by the Maoists
  • The Maoists have been fighting against the Indian authorities since the 1960s
The government has appointed negotiators as a hostage crisis involving two Italians kidnapped in eastern India stretched into a second week Wednesday.
Three officials will take part in the talks with the suspected Maoist rebels, said Updendra Nath Behera, the principal home secretary in the state of Orissa.
The insurgents also have named a pair of mediators, according to Behera, but their participation in talks was uncertain.
The kidnappers have provided officials with a list of 13 demands for the release of the Italians -- Bosusco Paolo and Claudio Colangelo.
As part of their demands, the Maoists want the government to pull its troops out of strongholds in Orissa and release their colleagues from jail, Kandhamal district chief Rajesh Prabhakar Patil said.
Anti-Maoist operations, part of a decades-long conflict, have already been suspended in Kandhamal, he added.
Maoist militants have been battling the Indian government in several eastern states since the late 1960s in an insurgency that has resulted in thousands of casualties. The group says it is fighting for the poor and the dispossessed.
Authorities have said they suspect the Maoists enjoy support not only in the poorest areas and in tribal communities, but also among youth and intellectuals.
In addition to targeting police, alleged police informers and people the Maoists call "class enemies," the insurgents also are believed to have carried out attacks roads, bridges, railways, and power and telecommunication networks.