At least 18 Maoist rebels were killed in a gunbattle with security forces in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh on Tuesday, the Indian Express newspaper reported, citing a Border Security Force spokesperson.

The violence comes days before India begins voting in a seven-phase national election on April 19, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a rare third straight term.

(Reporting by Sakshi Dayal; Editing by YP Rajesh)