Police kill nine suspected communist rebels in India

Police shot and killed nine suspected communist rebels after a fierce gunbattle Friday in a densely forested area of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, an official said.

Police had launched search operations early Friday after receiving a tip that a group of rebels were hiding in the forests in Kadapa district of the state, when the militants opened fire, said Y. Nagi Reddy, a local superintendent of police.

A three hour long gunbattle followed in which at least nine rebels, including six women, were killed, Reddy said.

Those killed have not yet been identified, but police believe they were members of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), Reddy said, adding that police had received information that senior leaders of the party were gathering in the forest.

Police have retrieved a large amount of arms and ammunition from the area when the rebels fled deeper into the forests. Additional paramilitary soldiers were being sent to the area to nab the rebels, he said.

The rebels, who claim to be inspired by Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong, have been fighting for more than two decades, demanding land and jobs for agricultural laborers and the poor.

In the past the rebels have often targeted police and government officials, whom they accuse of colluding with landlords and rich farmers to exploit the poor, reports the AP.

I.L.