Attack kills 23 on India truck

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The Independent Online

Suspected Maoist militants attacked a group of trucks jammed with passengers today in central India, killing 23 people and injuring 33 more.

The militants stopped the three trucks near the town of Darbhaguda in rural Chhattisgarh state, said Girdhari Naik, a state inspector general of police, blowing up one truck and setting fire to the other two. Most of the casualties were believed to be in the truck that was blown up, he said.

The attack, about 750 miles south-east of New Delhi, came just one day before the arrival of US President George Bush, who is going to India for a four-day visit. Fearing militants will time attacks to coincide with the visit, India has dramatically increased security in some parts of the country in recent days, particularly the violence-wracked Himalayan region of Kashmir.

In 2000, 35 Sikh villagers were massacred in Kashmir by unidentified assailants on the eve of a visit by then-US President Bill Clinton in 2000.

The region where today's blast occurred has been the scene of a number of recent bloody attacks by the militants, who claim to be inspired by Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong and say they are fighting to defend the rights of poor people.

They are active in several eastern and central Indian states.

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