KOLKATA (AFP) - Indian soldiers in West Bengal state on Thursday moved in to quell suspected Maoist rebels with teargas and batons, television pictures showed, after a rampage against the region's ruling communists. Paramilitary troopers and policemen breached Maoist barricades and entered the insurgent stronghold of Lalgarh, some 130 kilometres (80 miles) from state capital Kolkata, police said. "The operations at Lalgarh have started," state police chief Sujit Sarkar said as regional television stations broadcast footage of troops firing teargas and beating suspected Maoists with batons. Nearly 1,800 state and federal troopers have been deployed in West Bengal over the last few days, but villagers had blocked roads into Lalgarh to try to keep them out. "There is no time-frame for the operations but bloodshed would be restricted to a minimum," Sarkar said as Star Ananda television network said police were also using rubber bullets to break through mobs of armed men and women. Witnesses told AFP that local men armed with rifles were guarding all entry points into the town, where police accuse Maoists of using residents as human shields. Residents meanwhile also protested what they said was a brutal crackdown. "Our homes have been pillaged. A six month old infant has been thrown into a pond by the soldiers," a Lalgarh resident told ETV-Bangla network. West Bengal's chief secretary Ashok Mohon Chakraborty said negotiations with the Maoists were still an option. "The government is ready for talks with Maoists to end the lawlessness in Lalgarh. It does not want any bloodshed," he said. Suspected Maoist guerrillas have killed six Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) activists since Sunday, and on Thursday the bullet-riddled bodies of four more workers were found in the nearby town of Goaltor. Earlier in the week thousands of locals near Lalgarh town ransacked and torched police depots and houses belonging to party leaders. Fresh violence was also reported Thursday from neighbouring Orissa state with suspected Maoist rebels killing at least 10 people. Police there said a landmine destroyed a jeep carrying nine security personnel and their driver in a dense forest southeast of the state capital Bhubaneswar. The Maoist insurgency, which grew out of a peasant uprising in 1967, has hit more than half of India's 29 states. The rebels say they are fighting for the rights of neglected tribespeople and landless farmers. Estimates of the rebel army size nationwide range up to 20,000 but little is known about their leadership -- which does not court the media and seldom issues statements. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the Maoists as the most serious threat to India's internal security.