A senior police official says seven paramilitary soldiers have been killed in eastern India in a land mine explosion they believe was triggered by Maoist rebels.

Ram Niwas said Wednesday that five troops were killed on the spot in the attack in Chhattisgarh state a day earlier. Two others died in the hospital.

The area is a stronghold of the rebels, who are demanding land and jobs from the government for the poor. Suspicion in such attacks usually falls on the Maoists because of their long history of similar attacks in the area.

Inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, the rebels have fought the government for more than four decades. They have tapped into anger among the rural poor over being left out of the country's economic gains.