NEW DELHI: At least 14 suspected Maoist guerillas were killed Sunday in a gunfight in India´s western state of Maharashtra, police said, yet another violent clash in the country´s longest-running conflict.
Police said nearly 100 rebels were intercepted in a remote forest in Gadchiroli district roughly 900 kilometres (560 miles) east of Mumbai, and ordered to surrender.
But the guerrillas opened fire, sparking a battle with special police units that lasted hours, Maharashtra police said.
“We are continuing with search operations in the area. So far we have recovered 14 bodies,” the state´s head of anti-Maoist operations, Sharad Shelar, told AFP. The police suffered no casualties.
The Maoist insurgency began in the 1960s, inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, and has cost thousands of lives in almost daily incidents of violence.
Thousands of armed men and women — also known as Naxals — have fought authorities in the so-called “Red Corridor” that stretches through central and eastern India.
They claim to be fighting for the rights of the indigenous tribal people, including the right to land, resources and jobs.
The Maoists are believed to be present in at least 20 Indian states but are most active in forested resource-rich areas in the states of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra.
Last month eight members of the security forces were killed in Chhattisgarh after suspected rebels blew up their vehicle with a landmine.
Two soldiers were killed last week in a similar explosion in the central state.