Sabotage suspected as trains derail
Two trains derailed in eastern India, killing at least four people, and authorities are investigating whether Maoist rebels were responsible.
Eleven coaches of the Rajdhani Express passenger train went off the tracks near Chhapra town in Bihar state, killing four passengers and injuring eight others, district administrator Kundan Kumar said.
That incident was followed by a second derailment by a freight train in nearby Motihari, leading railway officials to suspect sabotage by Maoist rebels, who are active in eastern and central India.
"The cause for the derailment seems to be sabotage by the Maoists," said Arunendra Kumar, a top railway official.
But federal home minister Rajnath Singh said the government would wait for an investigation before reaching a conclusion.
"It is too early to blame the Maoists. Let us wait for the report on the incident," he said.
There were no casualties in the second derailment.
Rajiv Pratap Rudy, a politician in Chhapra, said there were about 500 passengers on the Rajdhani, which was travelling from New Delhi to Dibrugarh in the remote north-eastern state of Assam.
"It's a very ghastly accident," he told journalists at the scene.
The rebels had announced a general strike in Bihar today. They have been fighting the government for more than four decades, demanding land and jobs for tenant farmers and the poor.
In November, Maoist rebels boarded a passenger train and killed three police guards while it was passing through their stronghold in eastern India.
The rebels in the past have blown up train tracks, attacked prisons to free their comrades and stolen weapons from police.