Indian police clash with Maoists in remote jungle area

Image caption, Chhattisgarh is frequently hit by Maoist attacks

Indian police have clashed with Maoist rebels in a remote jungle area of the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, officials say.

So far no police casualties have been reported, but they say five rebels have been killed in the fighting.

Earlier it was feared that as many as 75 police were missing in the clash in dense jungle in the south of the state.

But senior Chhattisgarh police officer TJ Longkumer told the BBC that all police involved in the clash were safe.

The BBC's Salman Ravi in the state capital, Raipur, says a gun battle appears to be continuing in dense jungle in the south of the state.

Our correspondent says communication with the affected area is difficult.

It is in the remote Dantewada part of the state, which is severely affected by heavy monsoon rainfall.

The Maoists, also known as Naxalites, say they are fighting for the rights of rural poor.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described their insurgency as India's biggest internal security challenge.

Police say a paramilitary task force was on patrol in a mining area belonging to the National Minerals Development Corporation when the Maoists attacked.

They say that reinforcements are being rushed to the scene, but this is being hampered by the bad weather and the breakdown of wireless and satellite telephone communications.

Officials say the weather is so bad that it is impossible for helicopters to fly to the area.

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