NEW DELHI: The first day of polling in India's general election has been disrupted by Maoist-led violence which left at least 17 people dead.
The first of five phases of parliamentary elections was held in 17 states across the country and voting ended early in those constituencies affected by rebel violence.
The rebels struck in the state of Jharkand, using landmines which killed at least seven people including five security personnel on election duty, said deputy commissioner Sarvendu Tathagart.
A bus carrying security forces was blown up by the improvised explosive device blast. The Maoist rebels attacked at least 12 locations over the course of the day including a polling booth in Rohtas district in Bihar.
In two other districts in Orissa and Chhattisgarh, they blocked roads and cut off access to polling booths.
The rebels also snatched voting machines from two booths in Chhattisgarh's Dantewara district and killed six security personnel in a landmine explosion elsewhere. Two polling officials were also reported dead in a landmine strike, while a paramilitary trooper was shot dead during crossfire in the same state.
An election officer's vehicle was blown up by another landmine and five polling officers were reportedly killed when the Maoists detonated explosives in two districts in the state.
The rebellion was active across many constituencies that went to the polls on Thursday including those in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharasthra, Jharkhand and Bihar.
Of the 543 parliamentary seats being contested, 124 will be decided in the first of five phases to be held over the next month.
The country's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party condemned the ruling Congress for the deteriorating condition of security and failing to curtail Maoist rebellion.