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10 December 2023

Indian police kill 15 Maoists, search for more

By Reuters

Police scoured the jungles of a central Indian state looking for wounded Maoist rebels on Friday, a day after 15 rebels were killed in a fierce gun battle with government forces, officials said.

The Maoists were killed in their stronghold of Bastar in Chhattisgarh state, the worst-hit among a dozen Indian provinces battling a four-decade-old Maoist insurgency.

The gunfight broke out when a police patrol opened fire on insurgents armed with AK-47 rifles and grenades late on Thursday, wounding many rebels besides killing 15 of them, police said.

"We are now trying to capture several rebels alive who received bullet [wounds] and are struggling to run away," Rahul Sharma, a senior police officer, told Reuters.

He said hundreds of police had fanned out across a dense forest to trace the wounded rebels.

The Maoists started an armed movement in the late 1960s in what they said was a fight for the rights of poor peasants and landless labourers.

The rebels have killed politicians and security forces and blasted government property in an insurgency that has killed thousands of people. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described it as India's gravest internal security threat.