India land mine blast kills 13

NEW DELHI: Suspected communist rebels blew up a police vehicle in India's restive east, killing at least 13 people, police said Monday.

The attackers detonated a land mine targeting a police patrol around midnight Sunday in Dhamtari district, 55 miles (85 kilometers) south of Raipur, the capital of Jharkhand state, said police officer G. R. Sahu.

Eleven police officers, one civilian driver and a member of a government-supported armed vigilante group that fights suspected rebels were killed, Sahu told The Associated Press. The attackers escaped, he said, blaming the attack on Maoist rebels.

The Press Trust of India news agency said another three police officers were injured in the attack.

The rebels are called Naxalites after Naxalbari, a village in West Bengal state where the movement was born in 1967, and say they are inspired by Chinese communist revolutionary leader Mao Zedong.

The rebels have been fighting for more than three decades in several Indian states, demanding land and jobs for agricultural laborers and the poor.

Over the past few years about 2,000 people - including police, militants and civilians - have been killed in the violence.

Last month, suspected insurgents killed 17 people - including police, soldiers, election officials and civilians - in more than three dozen attacks in Bihar, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh states during the first phase of voting in Indian elections. The rebels had called for a boycott of the polls.