Forces raided a hideout in Chhattisgarh state after receiving intelligence a large number of rebels were gathered there.
On Saturday, senior police officer DM Awasthi said hundreds of police and paramilitary soldiers raided a hideout in Bijapur district after receiving intelligence that a large number of rebels had gathered there.
“So far it is confirmed that 22 security personnel were killed” on Saturday after the forces were ambushed while returning from the search operation near a forest, state police’s Additional Director General Ashok Juneja told AFP news agency on Sunday.
The Maoist rebels, inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting the Indian government for more than 40 years, in a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people.
More than 10,000 have been killed since the year 2000, according to data from the South Asia Terrorism Portal.
The rebels claim to defend the rights of indigenous tribes and other marginalised groups, while the government calls them India’s biggest internal security threat.
The Maoists, also known as Naxalites because their left-wing rebellion began in 1967 in the Naxalbari village of the eastern West Bengal state, have ambushed police, destroyed government offices and abducted officials.
They have also blown up train tracks, attacked prisons to free their comrades and stolen weapons from police and paramilitary warehouses to arm themselves.
Last month, a roadside bomb killed at least four policemen and wounded 14 in Narayanpur district of Chhattisgarh state as they were returning from an anti-Maoist operation.