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Police say suspected Maoist rebels have detonated a land mine and killed seven policemen and injured six others in eastern India

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PATNA, India — Suspected Maoist rebels have detonated a land mine, killing seven policemen and injuring six others in eastern India, a top police official said Thursday.

The policemen were returning from a search operation in Palamau district of Jharkhand state when the land mine blew up their vehicle late Wednesday.

Four policemen died instantly while three others died in a local hospital, said S. N. Pradhan, the police official.

The rebels have been fighting for more than three decades in central and eastern India to demand a greater share of the region's natural resources for its indigenous peoples. They have been relatively quiet over the past six months.

The rebels say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong. The Indian government says the rebels are the country's most serious internal security threat. India's home ministry says the rebels are active in 20 of India's 29 states.

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