Communist rebels kill 10 Indian paramilitary soldiers

PATNA: At least 10 Indian paramilitary soldiers were killed in an attack by Maoist rebels in a forest area in eastern India, police said Tuesday.

P.K. Thakur, the director-general of state police, said three insurgents were also killed in an exchange of gunfire on Monday in the Dumrinala area, nearly 105 miles (170 kilometers) south of Patna, the capital of Bihar state.

The rebels used improvised explosive devices and fired at paramilitary soldiers in the area that is known to be a rebel stronghold, P. K. Sahu, another police officer, said.

Thakur said eight paramilitary soldiers were killed immediately and two of the five wounded died later in a hospital.

The bodies of three dead insurgents were recovered, he said.

The Press Trust of India news agency said the soldiers of the Cobra battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force were conducting anti-rebel operations in the area over the last two days. The Cobra unit is especially trained for jungle warfare.

The rebels have been called India's biggest internal security threat. They operate in 20 of India's 28 states and have thousands of fighters, according to the Home Ministry.

The insurgents, who say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting for more than three decades in central and eastern India, staging hit-and-run attacks against authorities as they demand a greater share of wealth from the area's natural resources and more jobs for farmers and the poor.

The rebels say they represent poor farmers and members of tribal groups who depend on the forests for food, fuel and building materials for their thatched huts.