South Asia

India Maoists kill security forces in Chhattisgarh

Rebels training in Jharkhand in February 2010
Image caption India's Maoist insurgency began in the late 1960s, in the remote forests of West Bengal state.

Six security personnel have been killed and eight injured in two separate attacks by Maoist rebels in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh.

Four policemen died when a vehicle carrying them hit a landmine in Dantewada district.

And earlier on Sunday, two paramilitary soldiers were ambushed and killed by rebels in Kanker district, police said.

Maoist rebels say they are fighting for the rights of indigenous tribal people and the rural poor.

They are active in several eastern and central states. In one of the most deadly attacks last year, rebels killed 74 policemen in Dantewada.

India's prime minister has described the Maoist insurgency as the country's biggest internal security challenge.

Sunday's attacks happened in the restive Bastar region.

In the first attack, rebels ambushed a contingent of paramilitary soldiers belonging to the Border Security Force (BSF) in Kanker, killing two soldiers and injuring four others.

Police officials claimed that a number of rebels were also killed in the firefight, but only one body of a rebel was recovered from the spot.

Later in the day, a vehicle carrying policemen on a search operation hit a landmine in Dantewada.

Four policemen died in the explosion, and four others were injured in the blast which tore apart the vehicle.

The BBC's Salman Ravi in Raipur says Bastar is the most sensitive region of Chhattisgarh where Maoist insurgents control a large area.

During the last one month, Maoists have carried out many landmine explosions in the area, killing more than 30 security personnel.

A government offensive against the rebels - widely referred to as Operation Green Hunt - began in late 2009.

It involves 50,000 troops and is taking place across five states - West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa and Chhattisgarh.

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