NEW DELHI: Twelve Maoist rebels died in a gunbattle with security forces in a remote forest in eastern India, police said Tuesday. Police said the fighting broke out when they tried to intercept a group of suspected guerrillas late Monday in eastern Jharkand state, a rebel stronghold. “They started firing when we tried to stop them,” said Hemant Toppo, deputy inspector general of police in Palamu where the incident occurred. “We retaliated and 12 Naxals were killed in the exchange that lasted for almost an hour,” he told AFP, using a local term for the Maoist rebels. India’s long-running Maoist insurgency began in the 1960s and has cost thousands of lives.