NEW DELHI (AP) — Police say Maoist rebels have ambushed policemen in an insurgency-wracked central Indian state and fatally shot seven of them.

Senior police officer R.K. Vij says the rebels struck Friday while the police were on their way to provide security to workers building a road in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh state. That’s nearly 265 kilometers (165 miles) south of Raipur, the state capital.

Vij said two police officers were injured in the attack. The region is a stronghold of the rebels, who are demanding land and jobs for the poor and often target government forces.

Inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, the rebels have been fighting the government for more than four decades. The Home Ministry says the rebels are now present in 20 of India’s 28 states.