RAIPUR - Suspected Maoist rebels triggered a powerful landmine blast in India's central Chhattisgarh on Wednesday, killing seven policemen, in the latest attack in the restive region, the state's police chief said.

The truck carrying the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officers hit the landmine as it travelled through forested and remote Dantewada district, some 350 kilometres (220 miles) south of state capital Raipur.

"Seven jawans (officers) of the CRPF were killed," Chhattisgarh Director General of Police A.N. Upadhyay told AFP.

The rebels looted the truck of weapons after exploding the mine which left a large crater in the road, the Press Trust of India news agency reported, citing local police.

Hundreds of thousands of Indian security forces are stationed in the insurgency-hit region, where armed Maoist rebels say they are fighting for the rights of suppressed people.

Dantewada, part of the mineral rich Bastar region, is one of the rebel strongholds and locals report frequent clashes between security forces and Maoists.

The insurgency began in the 1960s, inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, and has cost thousands of lives.

The rebels, described by the previous prime minister as India's most serious internal security threat, say they are fighting authorities for land, jobs and other rights for poor tribal groups.

Critics believe attempts to end the revolt through tough security offensives are doomed to fail, saying the real solution is better governance and development of the region.

The rebels operate in at least 20 Indian states but are most active in the forested and resource-rich areas of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra.