Indian officials are vowing a strong response after Maoist rebels killed at least 76 paramilitary soldiers in their deadliest attack on security forces in the decades-long insurgency.
Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram visited the central state of Chhattisgarh on Wednesday, where rebels ambushed members of the Central Reserve Police Force the day before.
Chidambaram told reporters that "if this is a war, it is a war that has been thrust upon the state." He said Wednesday the military will not be deployed to fight the rebels, but did not rule out using the air force. He said it will likely take two or three more years to defeat the insurgency.
At the moment, police and paramilitary troops are fighting the Maoists, but analysts say they are ill-equipped, poorly trained and too small in number to tackle the rebels.
Indian officials say the long-running Maoist insurgency, which has spread to 20 of the country's 28 states, is India's most serious domestic security issue. The rebels, also called Naxalites, are demanding land and jobs for the poor.
Gautam Gupta, VOA correspondent from Kolkata has more on this.