Maoist rebels killed in central India: Police

RAIPUR, India (AFP) – At least five suspected Maoist rebels were killed Saturday in a remote part of central India, police said, the latest attack in the country’s internal simmering conflict.

The gun battle took place when a police patrol, following a tip on the presence of rebels in a forest area in the restive Chhattisgarh state, was out on a search operation.

“Five bodies of Maoists have been recovered so far,” police deputy inspector general Sundarraj P told AFP.

Two policemen were also injured in the shootout.

“They are under treatment and out of danger,” the officer said.

Police also recovered hand grenades and two rifles.

Police was on the trail of some of the rebels who managed to escape, the officer said.

The attack is the latest in a deadly conflict that pits the insurgents against local and national authorities in the forests and rural areas of mainly central and eastern India.

Last week rebels killed 11 paramilitary commandos in the region after ambushing their convoy. The troops were on their way to provide protection to workers for a road construction project when the gunmen attacked. The guerrillas, who say they are fighting for the rights of tribal people and landless farmers, often collect funds through extortion.

The Maoists are believed to be present in at least 20 states but are most active in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra, occupying thou-sands of square kilometres of land.