At least seven Maoist rebels were killed in a gunbattle with security forces onFriday in India’s central Chhattisgarh state, the police said.

The fighting took place between the militants and the state police’s Special Task Force in the forests of Bastar in the Dantewada district, about 450 km. south of the state capital, Raipur.

“We recovered seven bodies of the militants from the scene after a 10-hour long gunbattle,” district police chief Amresh Mishra, said in a phone interview. “Several more rebels might have died as we found drag marks in the forests,” he said. No trooper was injured in the action. “It has been the heaviest gunbattle we have fought in the recent weeks,” Mr. Mishra said. Police said dozens of rebels managed to flee into the forests but the offensive against the Maoists will continue. “We are intensifying our operations against the Maoists in their stronghold,” Mr. Mishra said.

Maoists are active in 20 of India’s 28 states and have been described by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as the gravest internal security threat facing India. Chhattisgarh is among the Indian states worst hit by the Maoist insurgency.

At least 2,671 people — including civilians, security personnel and rebels — have been killed in incidents related to Maoist violence in India since 2006, according to the Home Ministry.

Maoist rebels claim they are leading an armed rebellion to secure the rights of India’s poor and marginalized and operate in some of the poorest regions in the country.

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