Indian forces kill 8 Maoist insurgents in forest gunbattle
PATNA, India (AP) — Security forces killed eight Maoist insurgents, including four women, in an exchange of gunfire early Thursday in their stronghold in central India, a police officer said.
The two-hour gunbattle took place in a forest in Bijapur district in Chhattisgarh state after security forces encircled the rebel hideout, police officer D.M. Awasthy said.
Security forces found the bodies of eight rebels and some rifles and bullet magazines, Awasthy said.
Security forces didn’t suffer any casualties, he said. The area is 415 kilometers (260 miles) north of Raipur, the state capital.
The Maoist rebels, inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting the Indian government for more than four decades, demanding land and jobs for tenant farmers, the poor and indigenous communities.
The government has called the rebels India’s biggest internal security threat. With thousands of fighters, the rebels control vast swathes of territory.
The rebels, also known as Naxalites, have ambushed police, destroyed government offices and abducted officials. They have blown up train tracks, attacked prisons to free their comrades and stolen weapons from police and paramilitary warehouses.
In May, authorities said Indian security forces killed at least 44 suspected rebels in multiple raids in western India.