KOLKATA (AFP) - Suspected armed Maoist rebels riding motorcycles on Monday killed 17 policemen and injured dozens in a daring gun and bomb attack on a security camp in eastern India, police said. It was the deadliest Maoist raid on security forces since October, when the left-wing guerrillas gunned down 17 policemen in western India, one of a series of assaults in an increasingly lethal insurgency. The latest deadly rebel attack came amid a security offensive in several states to flush out the outlawed insurgents from their strongholds. Two Maoist guerrillas were also killed in the raid in West Bengal states Midnapore district following a gunbattle with security forces, West Bengal state police inspector general Surojit Purokayastha told AFP. Seventeen policemen have died in the Maoist attack, he said in state capital Kolkata. Twelve of the policemen were shot dead while five others were burnt to death in a landmine blast that started a fire in their camp, he said. Purokayastha said some two dozen securitymen were also injured in the hour-long attack, some of them critically. The death toll could rise as some securitymen are missing since the attack, he said and added police reinforcements have reached the site. Local television footage showed heavily armed policemen hunkering down on a road as the fire blazed in their camp. Purokayastha said some 20 Maoists on motorcycles had attacked the camp. The attack was to protest the crackdown on Maoist rebels in the district, he said, adding that 51 policemen and security personnel were resting in the facility when it was hit. The withdrawal of security forces from the district is a long-standing demand of the Maoists, Purokayastha said. Mondays attack came a day after police arrested 10 Maoists in Midnapore following a gunbattle with troopers, Purokayastha said, adding that arms and ammunition were also recovered from them. Four or five Maoists were also injured in the gunbattle on Sunday, he said. Maoists in the area have so far not accepted responsibility for the attack. In October, Maoist-backed activists hijacked an express train in West Bengal to demand the release of a tribal leader arrested in September, but there were no casualties. Little is known about the Maoist movements shadowy leadership or its strength. It is said to number between 10,000 and 20,000 followers. Maoist-linked violence claimed more than 600 lives last year, when the government slapped a ban on the rebels, officially designating them terrorists. The Maoist insurgency started as a peasant uprising in 1967 and has since spread to 20 of Indias 29 states. The rebels claim to be fighting for the rights of Indias poor and tribal populations. The Maoists have been described by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the countrys number one internal security threat. The strength of the decades-long insurgency prompted the government late last year to send thousands of police and paramilitary troopers into rebel strongholds in several states.