At least eight suspected Naxalites of the CPI (Maoist), including a couple of senior leaders, were gunned down by state police near Etapalli in south Gadchiroli, bordering Chhattisgarh, some 300 kms from Nagpur on Sunday morning.
According to reports reaching here, acting on a tip-off, three groups of C-60, an elite anti-naxal squad of Gadchiroli district, reached near the jungle of Mendhari early on Sunday morning.
On seeing that a seizable number of police force were closing in, the Maoists, said to be more than 100 in number, resorted to indiscriminate firing on the police forces.
The Etapalli police informed that the police jawans immediately retaliated and the exchange of firing continued for over an hour. The police overpowered the naxalites after a half an hour and forced them out from the area.
Six bodies of naxalites, who were clad in olive green battle fatigues, were recovered from the spot. Police suspected that the left-wing extremists succeeded in carrying away the bodies of at least two other slain rebels. The slain rebels are, however, yet to be identified.
The police recovered 1 carbine, one modern rifle, three twelve bore rifles and huge explosives from the spot.
D Nalawade, the deputy superintendent of police (SDPO) of Etapalli, informed that search operations have been intensified in the area after the incident. Besides, Chhattisgarh police were also alerted immediately after the encounter. “Bodies of the slain Naxalites are yet to be brought to Etapalli for post-mortem,” he added.
However, combing operations in the area were affected throughout the day due to incessant rains in the area. Senior police officers from Gadchrioli, including the police chief, Mohd Suvej Haque, have rushed to the spot.
This is fourth major success for the state police against left-wing extremists in the district this year. Four Naxalites were killed near Dhanora in north Gadchiroli on April 12 this year, while seven suspected Maoists were killed in an encounter near Bhatpar in south Gadchiroli on April 4.
The Gadchiroli police also gunned down six suspected Naxalites, including a divisional committee member of CPI (Maoist) and two women activists, near Jimalgatta forest in south Gadchiroli on January 20 this year.