NEW DELHI (AP) — Government forces killed at least 14 Maoist rebels during a raid on their hideout Sunday in a forested area in western India, police said.
The fighting began after police commandos raided the rebels’ hideout deep in a forested area in Gadchilori district in Maharashtra state, said police officer Prashant Diwate.
Diwate said exchange of gunfire between the rebels and troops lasted about half an hour. He said police were searching the area for more possible bodies.
He said police suffered no casualties.
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The Maoist rebels, who claim inspiration from Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting the Indian government for more than four decades, demanding land and jobs for tenant farmers and the poor.
The rebels, also known as Naxalites, have ambushed police, destroyed government offices and abducted government officials for decades in their fight against the Indian government. They have blown up train tracks, attacked prisons to free their comrades and stolen weapons from police and paramilitary warehouses.
The insurgency began in 1967 as a network of left-wing ideologues and young recruits in the village of Naxalbari outside Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal state.
In their deadliest attack, rebels in 2010 killed 76 soldiers in Chhattisgarh, one of the most-affected states.
The government has called the rebels India’s biggest internal security threat. With thousands of fighters, the rebels control vast swaths of area in the country.