CALCUTTA, India – An overnight passenger train was derailed by an explosion, then hit by another train early today as it traveled through a rebel stronghold of eastern India, a railway official said.

A government official said at least 15 people had been killed and 150 injured.

The railway official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said 13 passenger cars on a train out of Calcutta were derailed by the explosion, in a rural area about 90 miles south of the city. Some of those coaches were then hit by a cargo train coming from the other direction.

Home Secretary G.K. Pillai told NDTV television that at least 15 people had died and at least 150 more had been injured.

The passenger train was heading to the Indian city of Kurla. The blast occurred in an isolated, rural stronghold of India’s Maoist rebels, known as Naxalites, who have stepped up their attacks in recent months. However, officials cautioned that it was too early to say whether the blast had been triggered by the Maoists.

Earlier this month, the rebels ambushed a bus in central India, killing 31 police officers and civilians.

The rebels, who have tapped into the rural poor’s growing anger at being left out of the country’s economic gains, are now present in 20 of the country’s 28 states and have an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 fighters, according to the Home Ministry.

The Associated Press

CALCUTTA, India (AP) – An overnight passenger train was derailed by an explosion then hit by another train early Friday as it traveled through a rebel stronghold of eastern India, a railway official said. A government official said at least 15 people had been killed and 150 injured.

The railway official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said 13 passenger cars on a train out of Calcutta were derailed by the explosion, in a rural area about 90 miles (150 kilometers) south of the city. At least some of those coaches were then hit by a cargo train coming from the other direction.

Home Secretary G.K. Pillai told NDTV television that at least 15 people had died and at least 150 more had been injured.

The passenger train was heading to the Indian city of Kurla.

The blast occurred in an isolated, rural stronghold of India’s Maoist rebels, known as Naxalites, who have stepped up their attacks in recent months. However, officials cautioned that it was too early to say whether the blast had been triggered by the Maoists.

Earlier this month, the rebels ambushed a bus in central India, killing 31 police officers and civilians.

The rebels, who have tapped into the rural poor’s growing anger at being left out of the country’s economic gains, are now present in 20 of the country’s 28 states and have an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 fighters, according to the Home Ministry.