- Associated Press - Sunday, November 11, 2018

PATNA, India (AP) - Maoist rebels on Sunday triggered a blast and exchanged gunfire with government forces in a central Indian state on the eve of legislative elections, police said.

One suspected rebel was killed while a paramilitary officer was wounded in the violence in Chhattisgarh state, said top police officer D.M. Awasthi.

The insurgent was killed in the Bijapur area during an exchange of gunfire while the officer was wounded after Maoists targeted soldiers during their patrolling in a forested area in the state’s Kanker district, Awasthi said.

The New Delhi Television channel said rebels detonated seven explosive devices simultaneously.

Tens of thousands of police and soldiers have been deployed to guard the polling, which starts on Monday and is being held in two phases. Authorities have also deployed drones for surveillance, NDTV reported.

Monday’s polling is scheduled for 18 constituencies that are considered strongholds of the rebels.

Rebels have stepped up their attacks in the state ahead of state elections and have warned people against voting.

On Thursday, rebels blew up a bus, killing three civilians and a paramilitary soldier in the state.

The Maoist rebels, inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting the Indian government for more than four decades, demanding land and jobs for tenant farmers, the poor and indigenous communities.

The government has called the rebels India’s biggest internal security threat.

The rebels, also known as Naxalites, have ambushed police, destroyed government offices and abducted officials. They have blown up train tracks, attacked prisons to free their comrades and stolen weapons from police and paramilitary warehouses.


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