Nine killed as poll violence hits restive Indian regions

NEW DELHI Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:33pm EDT

An Indian security personnel stands guard in front of a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi at a polling station in Merhama, south of Srinagar April 24, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Ismail

An Indian security personnel stands guard in front of a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi at a polling station in Merhama, south of Srinagar April 24, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Danish Ismail

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Nine police and poll officials were killed in India in two attacks on Thursday, one in a region hit by a Maoist insurgency and the other in Kashmir, the mainly-Muslim region where many voters are boycotting a general election.

Eight police and election officials were killed when assailants - that police suspect were left-wing rebels - blew up a bus they were travelling on in Dumka, in the eastern state of Jharkhand, police spokesman Anurag Gupta said.

Five of the dead were police. Five others were wounded.

Jharkhand forms part of a belt running down eastern India that is prone to attacks by rebels who target politicians and businesses they believe are colluding to ruin the livelihoods of native tribal groups.

In the second incident, one election official was killed and five people wounded in a gun attack in Indian-ruled Kashmir, where many people stayed away from voting in a constituency that was hit by pre-poll violence.

"Militants this evening fired at polling staff in South Kashmir's Shopian district, killing one poll official and injuring five others, including two poll officials and three policemen," South Kashmir police chief Vijay Kumar told Reuters.

Voting on Thursday was the sixth of 10 rounds in India's five-week-election, with ballots cast in states including Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. These regions could hold the balance of power if Narendra Modi's opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies fail to win an outright majority.

(Reporting by Jatindra Dash in Bhubaneshwar and Fayaz Bukhari in Srinagar; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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