An injured Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel is taken to a hospital at Raipur in the eastern Indian state of Chhattisgarh March 11, 2014.
March 12, 2014 3:07 AM EDT

Sixteen Indian police officers were killed in an ambush by an estimated 200 Maoist rebel fighters in Chhattisgarh state on Tuesday.

“The attack sparked a gun battle that lasted about three hours,” Rajinder Kumar Vij, who heads anti-Maoist operations in Chhattisgarh, told the AFP.

The gun battle occurred near to where a convoy of members from India’s ruling Congress Party was targeted by Maoists last May, which resulted in the deaths of 24 people.

The brazen assault on state security forces in the restive state comes just over a month before India is set to begin nationwide elections.

Maoist insurgents have been battling the central government for more than four decades and have been described as one the greatest threats to India’s internal security by outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.


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