Share story

NEW DELHI (AP) — At least seven Maoist rebels were killed Friday in the second major operation this week by security forces against their strongholds in central and western India, police said.

Security forces attacked the rebels after learning they were meeting in a forest hide-out in Bijapur district in Chhattisgarh state, police officer Mohit Garg said.

He said seven rebels were killed in an exchange of gunfire. There were no immediate reports of casualties among the security forces.

The dead rebels included both men and women, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

At least 37 Maoist rebels were killed in gunbattles between government forces and insurgents in Gadchirolia in western Maharasthra state earlier this week.

The Maoist rebels, who claim inspiration from Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting India’s government for more than four decades, demanding land and jobs for tenant farmers and the poor. The rebels have thousands of fighters and are active in several parts of India.

They often attack government troops and officials and have been called India’s greatest internal security threat.