A group of militants attacked an army convoy in India's northeast Manipur state on Thursday, killing at least 20 soldiers and injuring 16 others.
Indian police officials said the militants ambushed and attacked the convoy with rocket-propelled grenades, homemade bombs and automatic weapons near Imphal, the capital of Manipur state.
Many armed groups operate in India's northeastern states, some demanding separate states and others fighting for a greater autonomy. They accuse the Indian government of negligence and exploitation of natural resources. Most rebel groups in Manipur have not joined talks with Indian authorities that aim to bring about a ceasefire deal.
Local media reported that most of the bodies of soldiers were burned beyond recognition after the attack on the four-vehicle convoy. They also reported that three injured soldiers are in critical condition.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Some analysts said that the attack, which is the worst on the Indian Army in at least a decade, was in retaliation against the reported killing of a woman by soldiers two days earlier. The district observed a complete shutdown on Wednesday in protest over the killing.
Indian security forces have been granted sweeping shoot-to-kill powers in so-called 'disturbed areas' under the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), but failed to quell the unrest. The AFSPA is in force in most northeastern states, where clashes claimed 450 lives last year.