At least nine Maoists were killed in a 'fierce' encounter with the security forces in a remote forested terrain near Pamed in Bijapur district, south Chhattisgarh during the wee hours of Tuesday, the police claimed.
"The forces have so far recovered nine bodies of the rebels killed in a fierce gun-battle. The search operation is still on. The details would be known only after a joint team returns", the Bijapur district superintendent of police Prashant Agrawal told Hindustan Times.
The joint action was carried out by the Chhattisgarh police, Grey Hound force of Andhra Pradesh along with the central reserve police force (CRPF). The security forces were on a combing operation when they were attacked by the ultras resulting in an encounter. Fearing a Maoist ambush, the officer declined to identify the location of the forces and the spot where the gun-battle resulted as the troops are still inside the remote jungle.
Based on intelligence inputs, the forces were informed about a 'heavy movement' of Maoists who were likely to hold a meeting in the region, it was told.
"Heavy exchange of fire resulted during the search operation. Sophisticated weapons were seized and the naxal camp was destroyed," Agrawal said. A large number of rebels were also reportedly injured in the encounter. However, there is no report of police casualty.
After nearly two-hour long gun-battle, the rebels retreated into the jungle.
A couple — Sudhakar and his wife Pushpa – were among the nine Maoists who died in an encounter in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh on Tuesday.
Sudhakar was a state committee member of north Telangana special zonal committee and the secretary of Karimnagar-Khammam-Warangal special area committee. “His death is a big setback for Maoists in the Chhattisgarh-Andhra Pradesh border area,” said a senior home ministry official on condition of anonymity.
The couple carried a reward of Rs. 25 lakh on their heads.
Four other women were among the deceased. “Half the Maoist group engaged in the encounter comprised women. There were at least 30 others who managed to escape,” the official added.
“The rebels had assembled to chalk out a strategy for bigger attacks on the forces,” said Bastar inspector general of police Himanshu Gupta. The two-hour encounter was a joint operation by troops from Greyhounds - the anti-Maoist commando force of Andhra Pradesh police -- the CRPF and the Chhattisgarh police.
The vast stretch of Bastar region comprising of seven districts in southern Chhattisgarh is the epicentre of Maoist activities.