India’s Maoist rebels have killed four policemen they abducted from a bus in the restive central state of Chhattisgarh, a senior officer said Wednesday.
The guerrillas stopped the bus transporting the security personnel as it was passing through a Maoist-dominated village late Monday.
“We have been informed that the four abducted police personnel have been killed by the Maoists. The bodies were thrown on the roadside near a forested area,” police superintendent K. L. Dhruv told AFP.
“Police parties have been sent out to the jungles to hunt for the culprits.”
The bodies were discovered close to the area where they were abducted, raising doubts about the search operations that police said had been launched immediately after the abductions.
A police source told AFP three of the four abducted men had been shot dead by “sophisticated AK-47 guns” while one had his throat slit.
“The use of these guns suggests a top Maoist commander may have been involved in the abduction,” the source said.
Maoists often use abduction to secure the release of jailed fellow fighters or to instil fear.
In May, the rebels abducted at least 250 villagers in the state’s Sukma district hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to tour the region. The villagers were later released unharmed.
The rebels, who claim to be fighting for the rights of poor tribal minorities and farmers, have waged a decades-long battle across central and eastern Indian states to overthrow government authorities.
India’s Maoist insurgency has claimed tens of thousands of lives, and was described by former prime minister Manmohan Singh as the country’s most serious internal security threat.