Death toll rises to eight in east India poll attack

PATNA, India- The death toll from an ambush by Maoist rebels rose to eight in an insurgency-hit region of eastern India, police said Friday after the latest deadly attack targeting ongoing elections.

Maoist rebels killed five police officers and three polling officials Thursday as they were returning from duty in Jharkhand, one of 12 states where voters went to the polls in India’s multi-phased general elections .

“Eight people, including five security force personnel, were killed when Maoists attacked their minibus,” head of Jharkhand police Rajeev Kumar told AFP.

The Maoist rebels have called for a boycott of the elections that began on April 7. Results will be out on May 16, four days after polling ends.

The insurgents killed 14 people in two poll-related blasts in the central state of Chhattisgarh earlier this month, highlighting the security challenges facing election organisers in India.

Separatist and Maoist insurgencies affect large swathes of India’s northeast, northwest and central regions.

The Maoist insurgency has cost thousands of lives. The rebels are believed to be present in at least 20 states but are most active in forested, resource-rich areas in the states of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra.