Suspected Maoists attack train in Bihar, three killed

New Delhi/Patna, June 13 (IANS) In an audacious daylight attack, suspected Maoists attacked a passenger train in Bihar's Jamui district Thursday afternoon, killing a railway police personnel and two passengers, said police and the railway ministry.

"Three people including a constable of RPF (Railway Protection Force) and two passengers were killed in a Maoist attack on the Patna-bound inter-city train in Jamui," said Jamalpur Superintendent of Police (Rail) Amitabh Das.

A railway ministry statement confirmed the deaths.

Half a dozen people were injured in the attack, said Das, adding that the attackers fled with the weapons of two RPF personnel.

According to district police officials in Jamui, about 180 km from Patna, nearly 100 armed Maoists attacked the train between Bhului and Kunder railway halt. Jamui is considered a Maoist stronghold.

"Maoists stopped the train by forcibly applying the vacuum brake and opened indiscriminate fire in which two railway police personnel and some passengers were injured. Three of them, including a RPF personnel, succumbed to their injuries," said an official.

Additional Director General of Police S.K. Bhardwaj said in Patna that the Maoists also looted some ammunition and two rifles from the RPF personnel.

"The main motive of the Maoists' attack was to loot arms of the RPF escort party and they succeeded in their attempt," he said.

Bhardwaj expressed surprise over the Maoist attack on the train in broad daylight. "Maoists usually attack trains in the night but this time they attacked in the day," he said.

Bihar police chief Abhyanand has directed the rail police and district police of Jamui and neighbouring districts to launch combing operations against the Maoists.

Railway ministry sources in New Delhi said the suspected Maoists, in a bid to snatch the weapons of the RPF personnel on the 1331 Dhanbad-Patna inter-city train service, opened fire at them.

They said the security personnel returned the fire and a guard and a RPF constable were injured in the cross-firing.

The train, which was detained for around one hour and 15 minutes, had since moved towards its destination and rail traffic was normal on the route, said the sources.

Railway Minister C.P. Joshi said preliminary information indicated that it could be a Maoist attack, while Minister of State for Home R.P.N. Singh termed the attack as "unfortunate and dastardly".

Joshi announced an enhanced ex-gratia amount of Rs.5 lakh to the next of kin of those killed, Rs.1 lakh to a passenger who was grievously injured and Rs.25,000 each to four people (three passengers and train guard) who received minor injuries, said a statement.

He said contingents of paramilitary forces, including the Central Reserve Police and the Border Security Force, had been rushed to the spot.

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