India leaders condemn 'barbaric' Maoist rebel attack on convoy

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India leaders condemn 'barbaric' Maoist rebel attack on convoy

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The President of India’s ruling Congress Party Sonia Gandhi has said she is devastated after Saturday’s ambush by suspected Maoist rebels on a convoy carrying regional leaders.

More than 20 people were killed in the attack in dense forest in the eastern state of Chhattisgarh.

Some 200 rebels are thought to have been involved. They downed trees to block the convoy, detonated a landmine and raked the vehicles with gunfire.

The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who described the attack as “barbaric”, and the Congress Party president travelled to the region on Sunday.

“We are all astounded, and shocked, and pained by what has happened,” Sonia Gandhi said.

More than 30 people were wounded in the ambush; many were treated in local hospitals.

Among those killed were the state’s Congress Party leader and his son, as well as a local leader who had set up an anti-Maoist militia group.

The rebels have fought a decades-long campaign in much of central India, saying they back the rights of the rural poor. Some areas are rich in minerals.

Both government and rebels have hardened their positions in recent years.