Armed with the rifles and revolvers, the Maoists kept security personnel pinned down, while other rebels helped most of the prison inmates escape, he said.
 
Police reinforcements were sent to the jail and are searching surrounding areas, Sant said.
 
Guards overpowered
 
The prisoners overpowered their guards during a meal, took their guns and opened fire at the prison, Rahul Sharma, a local police official, told AFP news agency.
 
He confirmed that police reinforcements had reached the prison, and were searching for the escapees.
 
Chhattisgarh is a stronghold of the Maoists who operate in at least 13 Indian states.
 
The Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of poor farmers and landless labourers.
 
The group frequently target police and government officials, whom they accuse of colluding with landlords and rich farmers to exploit the poor.
 
Thousands of people, including hundreds of police officers, have been killed in the past decade.
 
Landmine blast
 
In a second violent incident on Sunday, separatist in India's northeast blew up a bus using a landmine that killed at least seven people and injured 25 more, police said.
 
The attack occurred about 15km north of Imphal, the capital of Manipur state, where more than a dozen groups are fighting for the frontier's state's separation from India.
 
Four of the 25 passengers injured in the blast were in a serious condition, he said, blaming separatists for the explosion.
 
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast.