Communist rebels attack police camp in eastern India

Communist rebels attacked a police compound Friday in a daring early morning raid in eastern India , killing two policemen, kidnapping two others and freeing 60 prisoners, police said. More than 200 rebels attacked the camp in Orissa state, said police officer Banamali Mishra, adding that police believe they killed several rebels.

"We cannot tell the exact number of (rebels) killed as the extremists took away the dead bodies of their colleagues along with them," he said. The compound housed a police barracks, police station, prison and local treasury office. All were attacked, he said.

They killed two officers and kidnapped the heads of the police station and jail, Mishra said, adding that two officers were also wounded in the clash. The insurgents, often called Naxalites, have been fighting more than 25 years. They claim to be inspired by Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong, and say they are fighting to defend the rights of the poor.

Authorities estimate they have about 9,300 fighters and have launched more than a dozen assaults on government targets in the past year, heightening fears that the rebels are gaining strength and popularity among jobless and landless peasants in impoverished parts of India 's rural south and east. The gunfight lasted about two hours before the rebels fled back into the jungle with a large stash of stolen weapons, Mishra said, reports the AP.

N.U.