NEW DELHI -- At least 16 people, including a prominent politician, were killed Saturday when Maoist guerrillas ambushed a convoy of political leaders in Chhattisgarh State, the authorities said. Among the dead were five police officers.
The politician, Mahendra Karma, a senior member of the Chhattisgarh Indian National Congress Party, was killed, and the state party president, Nandkumar Patel, as well as his newly married son were missing, Mukesh Gupta, a state police official, said in an telephone interview late Saturday night.
The victims were in a convoy of vehicles, escorted by the police, that was headed to Jagdalpur from Sukma in central India. As the convoy traveled between two valleys in a heavily forested area between 5 and 6 p.m., a bomb exploded, and 200 to 300 guerrillas opened fire, Mr. Gupta said.
Mr. Karma had been given considerable protection, including a bulletproof vehicle, but he was not riding in it at the time of the attack, Mr. Gupta said. Mr. Patel has also always been given tight police security.
According to news media reports in India, Mr. Patel and his son might have been abducted.
The attack was among the most audacious by guerrillas in India's tribal belt, where an insurgency has been waged for years. The number of attacks and deaths surged in 2009 and 2010 but had waned in the last two years, with some hoping that the central government's welfare programs -- including food and jobs programs -- had cut support for the insurgents.
India's governing coalition has promoted the decline in Maoist attacks and deaths as one of its signature achievements.
The Congress Party is part of the ruling coalition in the central government but is in the opposition at the state level in Chattisgarh.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.