Suspected Maoist rebels opened fire on a government helicopter transporting material for a local election in eastern India, killing one crew member Friday.

A rebel bullet pierced the windshield of the helicopter while it was on the ground, hitting the flight engineer in the head and killing him instantly, said Alok Shukla, an election official. The pilot then got the aircraft airborne and escaped under fire. Four others in the chopper were unhurt.

The attack took place in Bijapur, 310 miles south of Chhattisgarh state's capital Raipur.

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

The guerrillas accuse authorities of plundering the region's rich natural resources with little benefit to the locals.

Called Naxalites after Naxalbari — a village in West Bengal state where the movement was born in 1967 — the Maoists have frequently targeted police and government officials.