At least six people, including four policemen, were killed in a gun-battle between Maoist insurgents and police in India's eastern state of Bihar on Thursday, a news report said.
A team of the Special Auxillary Police foiled an attempt by the cadre of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) to loot a bank in the Gaya district, 130 kilometres south of state capital Patna, dpa reported.
Senior police official Praveen Basistha told the PTI news agency that the militants opened indiscriminate fire at the police team, leading to the shootout.
Four policemen, a bank customer and a rebel were killed in the shoot-out, he said. Five policemen injured in the encounter were moved to a local hospital for treatment.
The Maoists fled the scene of the encounter and the police launched search operations to track them down, the report said.
Maoist militants, 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.
Indian Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta recently announced that the government will step up the fight against Maoists and six jungle warfare and counter-insurgency schools would be set up to prepare security personnel to counter the rebels.