Indian Maoists kill 10 in 'revenge' attack: police

PATNA: Maoist rebels killed 10 villagers and burned down dozens of houses in an apparent revenge attack on suspected informers in eastern India, police said Thursday.

More than 100 leftist guerrillas surrounded the village of Phulwaria in Bihar state late Wednesday night and began firing and detonating explosives, police director general U.S. Dutt told AFP.

Dutt said 10 people were killed and six others abducted from the village, located 200 kilometres (125 miles) from the state capital Patna.

The rebels burned dozens of dwellings before leaving the village with their captives, he added.

A local police official said the Maoists suspected the villagers had helped authorities arrest 11 rebels earlier this month, eight of whom were later killed.

Police said they believed the guerrillas had taken the kidnapped villagers into the thick jungles of neighbouring Jharkhand state, a Maoist stronghold.

India's Maoist insurgency began as a peasant uprising in 1967 and the rebels are currently active in a so-called "Red Corridor" of nine states stretching across north and eastern India.

They claim to be fighting for the rights of impoverished tribal people and other victims of state violence.

India has launched a security offensive in several Maoist-infested areas, but so far failed to significantly curb their operations.

Wednesday's attack came just two days after Maoists killed 24 policemen in an assault on a camp in the eastern state of West Bengal.

The West Bengal government has ordered an inquiry into the massacre after accusations that inadequate security made the officers "sitting ducks."