Maoist Rebels Launch Coordinated Attacks on Indian Police Compounds, Killing 15

Hundreds of Maoist militants attacked six police compounds in eastern India in coordinated attacks, killing 13 police personnel, a village guard and a civilian and seizing at least 1,000 stolen pistols, police officials said Saturday.

The Friday night attacks -- on four police stations, a training academy and an armory -- were scattered across Nayagarh district in Orissa state, said Gopal Chandra Nanda, director general of the state police.

Eleven policemen were wounded, three of them critically, in the assaults about 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) southeast of the capital, New Delhi.

The village guard was shot as the rebels were fleeing the area and the body was found Saturday, said an area police superintendent, Rajesh Kumar.

Nanda said about 400 militants known as Naxalites were involved. Security forces were combing the area for them, he said.

The Press Trust of India news agency reported that the rebels took away the stolen weapons in a bus that they hijacked earlier. Nanda said he was unable to confirm the report.

The guerrillas, who say they are inspired by Chinese communist revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting for more than three decades in several Indian states, demanding land and jobs for agricultural laborers and the poor.

They are called Naxalites after Naxalbari, a village in West Bengal state where the movement was born in 1967.

Over the past few years about 2,000 people -- police, militants and civilians -- have been killed in the violence.

In March last year, 55 policemen and government-backed militiamen were killed when hundreds of rebels attacked an isolated police station in eastern Chhattisgarh state in one of the bloodiest incidents of the decades-long insurgency.