Suspected Maoist rebels blew up a police jeep in India's restive east on Friday, killing at least nine police officers, an official said. The attack came after police thwarted the rebels' attempt to rob a bank.

Dozens of attackers also stabbed to death two of the police officers who earlier challenged them at the State Bank of India branch in Bokaro district, 150 miles (240 kilometers) south of Patna, the capital of Bihar state, said Lakshman Singh, superintendent of police.

They fled the area but later triggered a roadside land mine blast targeting the jeep bringing police reinforcements to the bank in Jharkhand state, Singh told The Associated Press.

Another three police officers were wounded in the attack by suspected rebels, many of them women wearing civilian clothes, he said.

It was the second major attack blamed on rebels in Jharkhand state this week. On Wednesday, they killed 11 police officers in a similar land mine blast.

The rebels are called Naxalites after Naxalbari, a village in West Bengal state where the movement was born in 1967, and say they are inspired by Chinese communist revolutionary leader Mao Zedong.

The rebels have been fighting for more than three decades in several Indian states, demanding land and jobs for agricultural laborers and the poor.

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