Indian government troops scoured forests in eastern India for Maoist rebels Monday and reported killing up to 20 of them since the militants launched a coordinated wave of attacks on government targets late last week.
Three security personnel also have been killed in gunbattles with the rebles, known as the Naxalites, since Saturday evening.
The skirmishes follow the carefully coordinated rebel attacks Friday night on four police stations, a training academy and an armory in Orissa state’s Nayagarh district, that killed 13 police officers, a village guard and a civilian.
“We have received reports of the elimination of 20 Maoists. The reports are being confirmed,” T.K. Mishra, home secretary of the Orissa state government state told reporters Sunday night. He gave no other details. “We have also lost three security personnel,” Mishra added.
The search operations and fighting continued Monday in forested areas in five districts of the state, said Gopal Chandra Nanda, the director general of the state police.
“We are hopeful of completing the operation very soon, but we’ll continue the operation till we get full success,” Mishra said Sunday.
About 400 militants took part in the attacks and stole roughly 1,000 weapons, Nanda had said earlier.
The area is about 1,800 kilometres (1,100 miles) southeast of India’s capital, New Delhi.
The guerrillas, who say they are inspired by Chinese communist revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting for more than three decades in several Indian states, demanding land and jobs for agricultural laborers and the poor.
They are called Naxalites after Naxalbari, a village in West Bengal state where the movement was born in 1967.
Over the past few years about 2,000 people - including police, militants and civilians - have been killed in the violence.
In March last year, 55 policemen and government-backed militiamen were killed when hundreds of rebels attacked an isolated police station in eastern Chhattisgarh state in one of the bloodiest incidents of the decades-long insurgency. (AP)
20 rebels likely killed in gunbattle between Indian troops and Maoists