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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 December 2007, 14:40 GMT
Indian rebels in mass jailbreak
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Nearly 300 communist rebels and their supporters have reportedly escaped from an Indian prison in an armed jailbreak.

A police spokesman said 299 of the 377 inmates in Dantewada prison in Chhattisgarh state had escaped.

"The inmates overpowered the prison guards and fled amid gunfire," police superintendent Rahul Sharma was quoted as telling New Delhi Television.

Reports said the remaining prisoners had taken control of the jail. But this has not been confirmed.

India's Zee News cited intelligence sources saying there had been clashes between inmates before the escape, and that possibly these were planned as a distraction.

Thousands killed

Police said reinforcements had been sent to the area to help search for the escapees.

The prisoners at Dantewada, south of the state capital Rajpur, are said to be mainly Naxalite rebels - militants fighting for a communist state in eastern India - and their supporters.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described these Maoist guerrillas as the most serious threat to India's national security.

The rebels say they are fighting for the rights of tribes people and landless peasants.

They have killed thousands of people, including hundreds of policemen, in the past three decades.

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