BHUBANESWAR, India (Reuters) - Maoist rebels killed five policemen in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand on Friday, a senior police official said, the latest in a series of attacks on security forces.

The policemen were patrolling a weekly market, M. L. Meena, additional director general of police in Jharkhand, told Reuters by telephone from Ranchi, the state capital.

The attack took place near the state border with West Bengal, Meena added.

Last month, suspected leftist insurgents killed at least 15 police and a civilian in a landmine attack on two security vehicles in the western Indian state of Maharashtra.

The Maoist insurgents, also known as Naxals, have battled a number of state governments for decades. They say they are fighting on behalf of people who have not benefited from a long economic boom in India, Asia’s third largest economy.

(Reporting by Jatindra Dash in Bhubaneswar; Writing by Shounak Dasgupta; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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