(dpa) - A group of over 300 Maoist rebels killed 13 policemen and looted a large cache of arms and ammunition in India's eastern Orissa state, police said Saturday.
The rebels attacked three police stations, a police training school and an armoury in Nayagarh district of Orissa, about 90 kilometres south-west of state capital Bhubaneshwar, district police chief Rajesh Kumar said.
They escaped with a huge cache of arms after a gun battle that began late Friday night and lasted over three hours, he added.
The rebels, including women cadre, were carrying bombs and firearms.
They attacked the district police headquarters, a goverment-run armoury and police training centre in Nayagarh town and two police stations in adjoining Daspalla and Nagaon towns in a coordinateded and well-planned attack, the official added.
Ten police personnel were killed at the police training school, armoury and Nayagarh police station, while a civilian was killed in crossfire. Two more policemen were killed at an outpost while the rebels were escaping, while another succumbed to his injuries on Saturday.
The dead police personnel included two women. Nine people were injured in the attacks.
NDTV television quoted witnesses as saying the Maoists looted at least 700 rifles and a large quantity of ammunition which they loaded onto three trucks before escaping into the nearby jungle.
The rebels sealed all entry and exit points to Nayagarh town and asked people to stay indoors making it clear that their plan was to loot arms and ammunition, PTI news agency reported quoting locals.
A massive combing operation had been launched to locate the rebels, Kumar said. Extra forces had been deployed to help in the search operations.
Maoist rebels, who claim to be fighting for the rural poor, tribal people and the landless, operate in 13 of India's 29 states.
They usually target police and government installations.
Thousands of people, mostly police and paramilitary personnel and government officials, have been killed in the insurgency since the late 1960s.