Dozens of heavily armed Maoist rebels stormed a bauxite mine in Orissa's Koraput district and held roughly 100 mine employees hostage before police regained control of the mine early on Monday morning, authorities said.
At least eight police officers and four militants died in the eight-hour shootout in the Panchpatmali area of Orissa, senior police official MM Praharaj told the CNN-IBN news channel.
Praharaj said the militants were hoping to steal large quantities of explosives used for mining, but they fled without them. CR Pradhan, director of the mine company, National Aluminum Company Ltd., or NALCO, said the workers held inside the mine were not harmed, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.
The rebels were likely trying to disrupt the upcoming national election, which begins on Thursday, Praharaj said.
"We are trying our best to ensure that the polls are conducted peacefully," he said.
Pradhan said police had recently warned NALCO to increase security around the mine because of fears of an attack. Praharaj said the rebels had buried explosives along the roads approaching the mine to keep authorities away.
NALCO is one of India's largest aluminum exporters and the Panchpatmali mines are the company's main sources of bauxite, the primary ingredient in aluminum.