Maoist rebels flee after storming Indian train

INDIAN police took control of a stranded high-speed train in eastern India yesterday after it was stormed by hundreds of tribal people linked to Maoist rebels.

The Rajdhani Express, one of the country's most prestigious passenger trains, was stopped in West Bengal state.

The attackers demanded the release of their leader, who had been arrested on charges of helping the country's growing Maoist rebellion.

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Police earlier said the attackers were Maoists, who have stepped up violence across eastern and central India and against whom the Indian government has planned a large-scale offensive.

The Maoist rebellion began four decades ago championing the cause of poor peasants in the east, but has now spread to about 20 of India's 29 states, with the rebels targeting police and government property in hit-and-run attacks.

Police said the men who attacked the train wanted security forces to stop an anti-Maoist crackdown in the area around Lalgarh, a town at the centre of protests against an industrial expansion plan.

Security forces took over the train unopposed as the attackers fled, police said. All the passengers were unharmed.