PATNA-At least 13 paramilitary troops were killed in an attack by Maoist rebels in central India on Monday, police said. R.K. Vij, a top police official in Chhattisgarh state, said the attack took place in Sukma district, 385 kilometers (240 miles) south of Raipur, the state capital.
Vij said troops from the Central Reserve Police Force were engaged in fighting the rebels in an area that is known to be their stronghold, but added that few other details were immediately available from the remote region.
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 rebels, 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 the poor living close to the land, including farmers and members of tribal groups who depend on forests for food, fuel and building materials for their thatched huts.–Agencies