By Indrajit Singh
Wednesday, April 7, 2010; A09
PATNA, INDIA -- Maoist insurgents, who say they fight for India's rural poor, killed at least 76 soldiers Tuesday in a string of carefully planned ambushes in the forests of eastern India, underscoring the rebels' strength despite a government offensive.
The attack by hundreds of Maoists in a rebel stronghold in Chhattisgarh state was the deadliest that the insurgents have mounted against government forces in their 43-year insurgency.
The rebels launched the first attack early in the morning, firing on a group of soldiers returning to base from a two-day patrol, said G.K. Pillai, the federal home secretary. More soldiers were killed by land mines that were planted in the ambush zone, he said.
More than 500 guerrillas -- known as Naxalites -- were involved in the attacks, according to R.K. Vij, inspector general of the Chhattisgarh police. No bodies of rebels were found.
Inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, the rebels have tapped into the growing anger of India's rural poor at being left out of the country's economic gains. The rebels are in 20 of the country's 28 states.
While many are poorly armed, they regularly launch attacks on government forces. In February, they killed 24 police officers in an attack in West Bengal state.
-- Associated Press