India's Maoists release officer after nine days

ORISSA, INDIA: India's Maoist rebels freed a government official on Thursday after nine days of captivity in the eastern state of Orissa, The Times of India reported.

"I am grateful to the state government, mediators and the public for their support," Krishna told reporters.

The insurgents abducted district administrator R Vineel Krishna along with junior engineer Pabitra Majhiand Majhi from a remote village on February 16. Majhi was released a week later on Wednesday, while the insurgents postponed Krishna's release in order to continue making more demands on the state government.

The Maoists released Krishna just 3km from where they had abducted him after 24 hours of suspense since the rebels had raised additional demands calling for a public swap of the official with nine of their imprisoned comrades. The government agreed to release five, refusing to let go two key leaders of their group.

"We agreed on certain issues. The government will honour its commitment," Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik said.

Krishna was freed after a four-hour long public meeting called by the Maoists in Tentuliguda village with about 1,500 villagers.

More than 1,170 rebels, troops and civilians have been killed in insurgency-related incidents in 2010. The Maoists are fighting for the rights of tribal, landless and poor people in the country's poorest regions.


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