New violence marred India’s general elections Friday as suspected militants attacked Indian border guards as they escorted polling staff through a treacherous passage in troubled northeastern Assam state Friday, police said.
The suspected militants triggered a land mine and then ambushed the troops with gunfire, said K.K. Sharma, police superintendent of the state’s Karbi Anglong district. Two guards suffered shrapnel wounds in the assault. The election workers had been returning voting machines to their main office after Thursday’s vote when they were attacked. The fighters, believed to be from the Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front — a tribal group fighting for self-rule for the local Karbi tribe — fled the scene after a short gun battle, police said. India’s elections run until next month in several stages of staggered voting, before the final count on May 16. Eleven more boroughs of Assam are due for polling in the second round of elections on April 23.
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Maoist rebels behind an insurgency in several Indian states on Thursday launched at least four attacks in an attempt to disrupt voting, and were blamed for a string of attacks earlier in the week.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called the rebels India’s biggest security threat. Officials say two million security personnel have been deployed to guard the voting process, which will see up to 714 million registered voters cast ballots for 1,700 candidates.