RAIPUR: Four Maoist rebels have been killed in a gun battle with police in a forest in central India’s Chhattisgarh state, security forces said Friday.
Police said the shoot-out happened early Friday morning in Bijapur, around 470 kilometres (290 miles) from state capital Raipur.
“After the fierce gun battle, bodies of one female and three male Maoist cadres, along with four rifles and four Chinese hand grenades, have been recovered,” Bijapur district police chief Kanhaiya Lal Dhruv told AFP.
The remote, underdeveloped region of the state is believed to have been a rebel stronghold for nearly two decades.
Police said that they had launched a search operation after an intelligence tip-off that the Maoists were in the forested Ganglaur area, where the shoot-out occurred.
Officers are still searching for weapons and the bodies of any more rebels killed in the incident.
India’s long-running Maoist insurgency began in the 1960s, inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, and has cost thousands of lives.
The rebels, described by former prime minister Manmohan Singh as India’s most serious internal security threat, say they are fighting authorities for land, jobs and other rights for poor tribal groups.
They are believed to operate in at least 20 Indian states but are most active in the forested, resource-rich areas of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra.