India

India police kill '12 Maoist rebels' in Jharkhand

Rebels car in Jharkhand Image copyright Other
Image caption The rebels were travelling in cars when they were intercepted, police said

Police in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand say they have killed at least 12 suspected Maoist rebels in a clash.

The fighting on early Tuesday took place in the forests of Palamau district, which is considered a rebel stronghold.

Police said they had recovered automatic guns from the rebels. There were no police casualties, they added.

The Maoists say they are fighting for communist rule and greater rights for tribal people and the rural poor.

Their insurgency began in the eastern state of West Bengal in the late 1960s, spreading to more than one-third of India's 600-plus administrative districts.

The details of Tuesday's clashes are sketchy - some reports said the rebels, who were travelling in two cars, opened fire at the policemen when they were stopped for a security check.

Police said they were trying to verify the identities of the men killed in the clash.

Major military and police offensives in recent years have pushed Maoist rebels back to their forest strongholds and levels of violence have fallen.

But hit-and-run attacks are still common, killing hundreds of people every year.

In December, Maoists killed at least 14 paramilitary policemen in an ambush in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh.

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