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Indian Police Kill 18 Maoist Rebels

FILE - Maoist rebels or Naxalites, officially the Communist Party of India (Maoist), that takes its name from the Naxalbari, a village outside Kolkata where the revolt began in 1967.

Indian police say they have killed at least 18 Maoist rebels in a gunfight in the eastern part of the country in one of the deadliest clashes with the rebels this year.

Police said the shootout happened late Sunday after authorities received a call that about 30 Maoist rebels were assembling in forests near the border of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh states.

Press Trust of India reported that a top Maoist leader and his son are among those killed. Authorities did not confirm this information.

The gunfire is reported to have lasted close to an hour.

Local officials say a search operation for more of the rebels is under way.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the Maoist rebels as India's most serious internal security threat.

The rebels are influenced by ideas from the late Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong and for more than five decades have been fighting for the rights of the poor and landless against what they say are severe inequities in land acquisition and natural wealth distribution.