NEW DELHI Maoist guerrillas ambushed a paramilitary patrol in central India on Monday, killing at least 24 policemen and wounding six in one of the deadliest attacks this year, senior officials said.
The attack was the second in as many months in remote Sukma district in the forests of Chhattisgarh state, about 400 kms (250 miles) from state capital Raipur.
Maoists seeking to overthrow the government have operated for decades across a wide swathe of central and eastern India. Security experts say the insurgency is India's biggest internal security challenge.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the attack on the patrol party of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was cowardly. "The sacrifice of the martyrs will not go in vain," he said.
Junior central home minister Hansraj Ahir will visit Chhattisgarh to take stock of the situation, the government said.
The CRPF men were providing security for road construction, Vijay Kumar, a senior CRPF official told Reuters.
Maoist rebels have grown in strength in recent times in areas where poor, tribal villagers have come into conflict with mining companies seeking resources for industrialisation.
(Reporting by Malini Menon; Additional reporting by Fayaz Bukhari in SRINAGAR; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Hugh Lawson)