India

India police kill 24 Maoist rebels in Orissa

Maoist rebels file picture Image copyright AP
Image caption The Maoists say they are fighting for communist rule and greater rights for tribal people

Police in India say they have killed at least 24 Maoist rebels in the eastern state of Orissa.

One police officer was killed and another injured in the gunfight that followed in a forest straddling the border between Orissa and Andhra Pradesh states.

The region has seen a long-running insurgency by Maoists.

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.

Profile: India's Maoist rebels

'Top leader'

The police say that, following a tip-off, they ambushed a group of about 30 Maoist rebels in the forest early on Monday.

"It was a makeshift training camp," district police chief Mitrabhanu Mahapatra told Reuters news agency.

A number of weapons, including automatic rifles, were found in the area, which has been cordoned off.

Image caption Monday's operation is being seen as a major victory for security forces in the area

Orissa police chief KB Singh told BBC's Sandeep Sahu they believed a top Maoist leader was among those killed.

The bodies of the dead rebels are being recovered while a search is on for those who got away.

Monday's operation is being seen as a major victory for security forces, who have suffered heavy casualties in this area in the past.

In 2008, the Maoists blew up a police vehicle carrying 18 paramilitary personnel, killing all of them on the spot.

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