BHUBANESWAR, India (AFP) — Indian security forces backed by army helicopters clashed with Maoist rebels on Sunday in the east of the country after the insurgents killed 13 police there, officials said.
Hundreds of guerrillas, including women fighters, on Friday launched a massive attack in the restive eastern coastal state of Orissa state, overrunning security posts and killing the 13 police and one civilian.
Rebels and security forces first clashed late Saturday, prompting local police backed by army helicopters and paramilitary troops to strike back at rebel camps in the forested hills west of the state capital Bhubaneswar.
The fighting was ongoing on Sunday.
"Firing has been going on from both sides," said a senior police official, who did not want to be identified.
Police, who think that up to 200 rebels could be hiding in the jungles about 250 kilometres (150 miles) from Bhubaneswar, said they thought a few insurgents had been killed in the fighting but declined to give an exact figure.
Orissa is one of India's poorest states and part of an eastern swathe of the country where the Maoists, who say they are fighting for the rights of neglected tribal people and landless farmers, appear to be gaining ground.
The insurgency grew out of a peasant uprising in 1967 and has hit half of India's 29 states.