18 Dead in Indian Election Violence

Maoist guerrillas kill, kidnap electoral officials
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2009 1:22 PM CDT
A policeman stands guard as women wait for their turn to cast votes at a polling booth at Rajgadha, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Thursday, April 16, 2009.    (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)
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(Newser) – Eighteen people have died as a result of attacks by Maoist guerrillas during the first day of voting in India's national elections, the Guardian reports. The guerrillas, called Naxalites, staged violent attacks today on polling stations, killing security guards and kidnapping at least four electoral officials.

The Naxalites’ call for a boycott and threats of violence were a large part of the reason India scheduled a staggered vote. Polling stations will open in different areas across the country over the next 4 weeks, allowing security forces to guard polling stations. Despite today's violence, turnout was heavy in the states that voted, varying from 50% to 85%.