A week after targeting a Congress leaders' convoy in Chhattisgarh in which 28 people were killed including Salwa Judum proponent Mahendra Karma and Chhattisgarh Congress chief Nandkumar Patel, the naxalites of CPI(Maoists) unleashed another attack on Friday - this time in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra.
The Red rebels fired indiscriminately at an anti-naxalite operations squad in the Nurgunda forests in Gadchiroli district.
According to reports reaching Nagpur, a group of armed Maoists opened fire on a team of C-60 commandos patrolling in Nurgunda jungle near Bhamragarh-Kothi road, bordering AP and Chhattisgarh, some 300 kms from Nagpur in south Gadchiroli, on Friday morning. The security forces retaliated and the exchange of fire continued for half an hour. Unable to put up resistance to the firepower of the security forces, the naxalites retreated into the jungles.
The district police suspect that at least a couple of naxalites are injured in the encounter. But before they could approach the naxalite camp, the Maoists fled to the core forest region, along with the bodies of their injured cadres. None of the security personnel was injured in the encounter, the reports said.
"We have intensified the combing operations in the naxal-affected areas in the district after the Chhattisgarh incident," informed the deputy inspector general of police, Ravindra Kadam.
The police have recovered huge arms and ammunition from the site.
Meanwhile, the security of peoples' representatives, particularly the local MLAs and zilla parishad members, has been beefed up. The district police, in a joint operation, along with para-military forces are patrolling and conducting nakabandi on the national and state highways and strategic points in the wake of Chhattisgarh incident.
A meeting of senior police personnel was also held in Gadchiroli on Friday after the Maharashtra home minister RR Patil, who is also the guardian minister of Gadchiroli district, received a life threat from the Left-wing extremists. DIG Kadam and SP of the district, Mohd Suvej Haq were present at the meeting.
Patil had made surprise visits to several interior places that generated problems for the security forces. "The minister should be more cautious about such visits. He should not go anywhere in the district without taking the security forces into confidence," a senior police officer requesting anonymity said.