12 killed in attack during India's elections

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12 killed in attack during India's elections
Supporters of Indian Congress party candidate Milind Deora carry cutouts of the Congress party symbol, the hand, during an election roadshow in Mumbai on April 12, 2014. India's 814-million-strong electorate is voting in the world's biggest election which is set to sweep the Hindu nationalist opposition to power at a time of low growth, anger about corruption and warnings about religious unrest. AFP PHOTO/INDRANIL MUKHERJEE (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian Congress party candidate Milind Deora (2L) waves to supporters during an election roadshow in Mumbai on April 12, 2014. India's 814-million-strong electorate is voting in the world's biggest election which is set to sweep the Hindu nationalist opposition to power at a time of low growth, anger about corruption and warnings about religious unrest. AFP PHOTO/INDRANIL MUKHERJEE (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents of Kashmir's Chadoora, a town outside Srinagar, gather behind concertina razor wire to listen to opposition People's Democratic Party, Muft Mohammad Sayeed's campaign speech on April 12, 2014, for the ongoing Indian elections. Fearing attacks by rebels, tight security restrictions mean supporters must be kept outside a perimeter marked with sign boards inside which only politicians delivering campaign speeches are allowed. India's 814-million-strong electorate is voting in the world's biggest election which is set to sweep the Hindu nationalist opposition to power at a time of low growth, anger about corruption and warnings about religious unrest. AFP PHOTO/Tauseef MUSTAFA (Photo credit should read TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images)
An elderly Sikkimese woman shows her finger marked with voting ink after she cast her vote at a polling station in Gangtok, capital of northern Sikkim state on April 12, 2014 during the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha (lower house) elections. India's 814-million-strong electorate is voting in the world's biggest election which is set to sweep the Hindu nationalist opposition to power at a time of low growth, anger about corruption and warnings about religious unrest. AFP PHOTO/Diptendu DUTTA (Photo credit should read DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images)
BALASORE, INDIA - APRIL 11: BJP supporters during a Bharat Bijay Samabesha rally of BJP prime ministerial candidate for Lok Sabha election Narendra Modi, on April 11, 2014 in Balasore, India. Modi said, I will transform Odisha like I have changed Gujarat. (Photo by Arabinda Mahapatra/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
India’s ruling Congress party Vice President Rahul Gandhi speaks during an election campaign rally in Doda, India, Friday, April 11, 2014. The multiphase voting across the country runs until May 12, with results for the 543-seat lower house of Parliament announced May 16. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
A supporter of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party wears a mask of their prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi during an election campaign in Balasore, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) from Bhubaneswar, India, Friday, April 11, 2014. The multiphase voting across the country runs until May 12, with results for the 543-seat lower house of Parliament announced May 16. (AP Photo/Biswaranjan Rout)
People listen to India's ruling Congress party vice president Rahul Gandhi during an election rally in Doda, in Jammu and Kashmir state, India, Friday, April 11, 2014. Indians voted in the crucial third phase of national elections Thursday, with millions going to the polls in the heartland states that are essential to the main opposition Hindu nationalist party's bid to end the 10-year rule of Congress party. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
Displaced Indian Muslim riot victims display their voting cards as they wait in line to cast their votes in Kutba village, Muzaffarnagar, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Thursday, April 10, 2014. The area witnessed one of the worst Hindu Muslim riots of recent times in which 69 people were killed and over 40,000 were rendered homeless. Indians voted in the crucial third phase of national elections Thursday, with millions going to the polls in the heartland states that are essential to the main opposition Hindu nationalist party's bid to end the 10-year rule of Congress party. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
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PATNA, India (AP) - Indian Maoist rebels killed 12 people in two separate attacks in the central state of Chhattisgarh on Saturday as they continue a campaign of violence aimed at disrupting a five-week national election.

Five election officials and two bus drivers were killed in a land mine blast while traveling from Kutru to Bijapur before planned balloting there next week, said the police director general, A.N. Upadhyay. Four people were injured and being treated in a hospital, he said.

In another attack Saturday, the rebels killed five paramilitary soldiers in an ambush on their vehicle in the remote Darbha Forest in the south of the state.

The rebels, who say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting for more than three decades for a greater share of wealth from the area's natural resources and more jobs for the poor.

Typically they target government and law enforcement officials in hit-and-run ambushes before disappearing into remote and poorly surveyed jungles within a wide swath of central India. Though they have a presence in 20 of India's 28 states, they are most active from their strongholds in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.

Thousands have died on both sides in the conflict. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called them India's greatest internal security threat, though none of India's major political parties has said much about the rebel threat during this year's election campaign.

The multiphase election runs for five weeks and ends May 12, with results for the 543-seat lower house of Parliament announced May 16. The main Hindu opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has strong momentum on promises of a surge in economic growth, and is threatening to unseat the governing Congress Party after 10 years in power.

Vowing to prevent the rebels from disrupting the vote, the government has deployed tens of thousands of police and paramilitary soldiers to guard polling booths in insurgency-wracked areas. But the rebels have only stepped up their attacks while also asking citizens to boycott the vote.

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