BHUBANESWAR, India - Hundreds of Maoist militants attacked six police compounds in eastern India in carefully coordinated attacks, killing 12 police personnel and one civilian and seizing at least 1,000 stolen pistols, a police official said Saturday.
The Friday night attacks - on four police stations, one training academy and an armory - were scattered across Nayagarh district in Orissa state, said Gopal Chandra Nanda, director general of the state police.
Another 12 policemen were wounded in the brazen assaults, which occurred about 1,800 kilometres southeast of the capital New Delhi.
Nanda said about 400 militants, known as Naxalites, were involved and security forces were combing the area for them.
Press Trust of India news agency reported the rebels took away the stolen weapons in a bus that they hijacked earlier, but Nanda said he was unable to confirm the report.
The guerrillas, who say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting for more than three decades in several Indian states, demanding land and jobs for agricultural laborers and the poor.
They are called Naxalites after Naxalbari, a village in West Bengal state where the movement was born in 1967.
Over the past few years about 2,000 people - police, militants and civilians - have been killed in the violence.
In March last year, 55 policemen and government-backed militiamen were killed when hundreds of rebels attacked an isolated police station in eastern Chhattisgarh state in one of the bloodiest incidents of the decades-long insurgency.