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Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh talking with armed forces personnel

Church condemns bloody Maoist attack

Saji Thomas

May 19 2010

JABALPUR, India (UCAN) -- Church leaders have condemned the killing of 31 people in central India by Maoists who blew up a private bus carrying 50 policemen and civilians.

"It is sad that many innocent lives were lost," said Carmelite Father Abraham Maliekal of Jagadalpur parish in Chhattisgarh state.

The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist, known locally as the Naxalites, is accused of planting a landmine that blew up the bus on May 17, about 450 kilometers south of Raipur, the state capital. The blast killed 16 police personnel and 15 civilians.

The Church "condemns all forms of violence" and "wants everyone to sink their differences to work for social peace," said the priest in the Maoist-infested state.

The Maoist movement began some four decades ago as they waged an armed struggle against the government purportedly to bring about an equitable distribution of land. Their growing base and bloodier actions have forced the government to declare them a national security threat.

The blast site "was a horrifying scene" with "body parts strewn for around 300  meters," said Pastor Anish Andrews, secretary of the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, who visited the spot.

The blood-stained clothes and large patches of blood on the road were disturbing, he said, adding that "it is really sad that we can only pray for the victims."

He said it was the first time that so many civilians have been killed in a Maoist attack as "normally they target only armed police personnel."

Carmelite Father Father Joseph Kuttiyanickal, who works on the outskirts of Dantewada where the blast occurred, said, "People are in a state of deep shock" over the "huge loss of lives, especially of civilians."

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh said the Maoist attack was "planned" and aimed at "demoralizing police and terrorizing civilians."

IC09749.1602 May 19, 2010 29 EM-lines (299 words)

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