New Delhi: Maoist rebels using mortars and machine guns battled police in eastern India in an hours-long fight that left 24 policemen and 25 rebels dead, a police official said on 11 July.
The rebels ambushed more than 100 policemen and the gunbattle lasted more than five hours in Dantewada district of Chattisgarh state, said Rajendra Kumar Vij, inspector general of state police.
He said at least 25 communist rebels were also killed in the gunbattle Monday night, but their bodies were yet to be recovered.
The fighting took place in Elampatti-Regadgatta jungle of Dantewada district, nearly 550 kilometers (350 miles) south of Raipur, the capital of Chattisgarh state.
The police team had gone to attack suspected rebel hideouts, but they were ambushed by the insurgents, Vij said.
The rebel assault was the latest in a series in the region, where widespread poverty has fueled a lengthy insurgency.
More than 6,000 people _ police, soldiers, and civilians suspected to be police informers _ have been killed since the rebels launched their campaign from Andhra Pradesh more than two decades ago.
The rebels, who claim to be inspired by Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong, have been fighting in several Indian states, demanding land and jobs for agricultural laborers and the poor.
The rebels, known as Naxalites from the Naxalbari region where the movement was born, are mainly active in six of India’s 28 states _ Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Karnataka, Orissa and Chattisgarh.