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Lucknow, India: A gang of criminals ambushed and fired on police who had come to arrest them in a northern Indian village early Friday, killing eight of the officers, a government official said.

The criminals blocked a road with excavators and fired on the police officers from rooftops, said Awanish Awasthi, an Uttar Pradesh state government spokesman. Five officers were injured and the assailants fled before police reinforcements could reach the area, Awasthi said.

The village is near Kanpur, a town 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Lucknow, the Uttar Pradesh state capital.

Uttar Pradesh, with a population of 230 million, is one of the most impoverished states in India. It's considered to be one of the most lawless with high incidents of armed robberies, kidnappings for ransom and crimes against women, according to the National Crime Record Bureau.

The police had gone to the village to arrest Vikas Dubey, a top suspect in dozens of crimes, including kidnappings and murder of Hindu nationalist leaders in the region.