According to Indian police officials, at least 15 police service members were killed following a landmine explosion in Maharashtra state of India on Tuesday.

The officials further added, the policemen were traveling through a densely forested area of Maharashtra state when the rebels set off a land mine, blowing up their vehicle.

An Indian security official speaking on the condition of anonymity said, at least 13 policemen were also wounded in the powerful blast.

Maoist rebels in the eastern state of Orissa kidnapped two Italians about two weeks ago, but released one and have been in talks with the state government over the other man’s release.

Maoist rebels frequently target police and government officials, whom they accuse of colluding with landlords and rich farmers to exploit the poor.

The Maoists want the government to call off all anti-rebel operations in Orissa and release rebel leaders from jail before they agree to release the remaining hostage.

The rebels are now present in 20 of India’s 28 states and have an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 fighters, according to the Home Ministry. Thousands of people — including police, militants and civilians — have died in the violence in recent years.