Five Indian security forces have been killed in an hours-long gun battle with guerrillas in the forests of the eastern Chhattisgarh state.
Hundreds of police and paramilitary soldiers attempted to raid a hideout in Bijapur district after receiving intelligence that a large number of guerrillas were gathered there.
This plan backfired for the counterinsurgent forces, as at least 12 security personnel were wounded by guerrillas in the four-hour gunfight.
At least 20 security personnel were missing after the engagement.
The guerrillas used automatic weapons and grenades during the gun battle.
The far-left wing Naxalite guerrillas have been fighting the Indian government for more than 40 years.
The guerrillas defend Indigenous tribes and other marginalised groups, fighting against the Indian state’s capitalist ransacking of land and its dispossession from indigenous people.
The guerrillas, also known as Naxalites because their left-wing rebellion began in 1967 in the Naxalbari village of the eastern West Bengal state, have ambushed police, destroyed government offices and abducted officials.
They have also blown up train tracks, attacked prisons to free their comrades and expropriated weapons from police and paramilitary warehouses to arm themselves.
Last month, a roadside bomb killed at least four policemen and wounded 14 in Narayanpur district of Chhattisgarh state, as they were returning from an anti-guerrilla operation.