NEW DELHI: Suspected Maoist rebels have ambushed a convoy of paramilitary commandos in east India and killed 10, police said on Tuesday, in the deadliest such attack since 2014.
A landmine blast hit the convoy Monday afternoon while the men were conducting an anti-Maoist operation in the dense forests of Aurangabad district in Bihar state.
At least three rebels were killed in a gunfight that followed the blast, police said.
“Ten of our men were killed in the blast and five are injured,” a senior police officer told Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity.
Police and paramilitary reinforcements were sent to the area, but police said the attackers had escaped.
“We called off the operation late at night as we suspect more mines were planted in the area. We are in control now,” Saurabh Kumar, deputy inspector general of police in the region told AFP.
“A combing operation is on. A few Naxals (Maoist rebels) have also been killed in the attack,” he said.
The ambush comes after seven police were killed in March when their truck hit a landmine planted by the rebels in central Chhattisgarh state.
In December 2014, Maoists killed 13 police and wounded another 12 in an ambush in a remote part of Chhattisgarh. The troops were carrying out an operation deep in a forest when the gunmen attacked.
Tens of thousands of paramilitary troops and police are stationed in central and eastern India, fighting thousands of armed insurgents.
The Maoist rebels claim to be fighting for jobs, land and other rights for mainly tribal minorities who suffer grinding poverty.
The rebels regularly launch attacks on security personnel in dozens of districts in the so-called “Red Corridor” which stretches through the country.
The insurgency has claimed thousands of lives, and the government describes it as the country’s most serious internal security threat.