NEW DELHI (AP) — Three government soldiers were killed in a gunbattle with Maoist rebels in India's central Chhattisgarh state on Wednesday, a day before voting begins there in national elections, police said.
Another three soldiers were wounded in the clash in Sukma district, 385 kilometers (240 miles) south of Raipur, the state capital, said police officer R.K. Vij.
The gunbattle took place as government soldiers were returning to their base after escorting election officials to polling stations in the district for Thursday's voting, Vij said. The multiphase voting across the country runs until May 12 for the 543-seat lower house of Parliament.
No casualties were reported among the rebels, who usually take their dead and wounded back to their hideouts.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called the rebels India's biggest internal security threat. They operate in 20 of India's 28 states and have thousands of fighters, according to the Home Ministry.
In March, the rebels killed 15 government soldiers and one civilian in their deadliest raid in almost a year, ambushing dozens of troops and police guarding construction workers in Chhattisgarh state.