Maoist rebels operate in a large swathe of India stretching from the east to some southern states, mostly in the countryside, and attack government officials and property.

'Combing operation'

Elsewhere, in the southern state of Karnataka, police said they had killed five Maoist fighters in a gun battle in the district of Chikmagalur, about 250km west of the state capital, Bangalore.

The state police chief said: "A massive combing operation is on to hunt for accomplices."

Karnataka is among the most recent of India's states to be hit by Maoist violence.

The police action came a week after a group of suspected Maoists set a government bus alight in the region.