Indian police kill seven Maoist fighters

Indian police have killed seven Maoists during an operation in a rebel stronghold known as the "Red Corridor".

Police came under attack in a jungle area of Gadchiroli district in the western state of Maharashtra, sparking an exchange of fire between the two groups on Tuesday, local police spokesman Dharmendra Joshi, said.

"They came under fire in the early morning. There were no injuries sustained by police, and the identification of the dead bodies is going on," Joshi said. "The combing operations of the area have intensified."

Gadchiroli police chief Mohammad Suvez Haque said officers believed a Maoist divisional commander was killed in the firing, after which weapons including an AK-47 and rifles were recovered from the fighters.

"This is a great achievement for the police forces as Maoists have been involved in several violent activities in the Gadchiroli area for many years," Haque said.

The Maoists have become a potent insurgent force, demanding land and jobs for the poor and fighting for a communist society by toppling what they call India's "semi-colonial, semi-feudal" form of rule.

The insurgency is believed to have cost tens of thousands of lives, with much action focused around the fighters' so-called "Red Corridor" stretching throughout central and eastern India.

Critics believe military action is not enough to stem the unrest, saying the real solution is better governance and development.