At least 10 commandos of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and four Maoists were killed in an encounter in Bihar’s jungles, sources said late on Monday.
The offensive took place in Dumari Nala forest area on the border of Gaya and Aurangabad districts, 172 km south of Patna, where the CRPF had launched a combing operation, the sources said. The men were trapped after the Maoists triggered around 21 improvised explosive devices (IED). Ten of the jawans were reported to be killed, making this one of the heaviest casualty in recent times in an anti-Maoist operation in Gaya.
The district magistrate of Gaya, Kumar Ravi, however, confirmed only two deaths. “Bodies of two jawans and five injured are on way. Three Maoists have also been killed in the gun battle,” he said over the phone.
Ravi, who was supervising relief and rescue operations at the airport at 0030 hrs on Tuesday, said the operation had started at 11am and went on till about 6pm, lasting about seven hours. The administration sent reinforcements after the heavy casualty from the IED blasts.
“We sent a helicopter, but it was unable to evacuate our people as the Maoists engaged our forces in heavy firing. The Gaya international airport will be opened throughout the night and BSF choppers are on standby. We will resume our operations in the morning,” he said.
The injured will be air-lifted either to Patna or Ranchi for medical treatment after being assessed at the Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College Hospital, he added.
“The search operation has been going on since the last two days after we had a tip off that a group of Maoists led by ‘Sandeep Ji’ of Bihar Jharkhand Special Area Committee (BJSAC) was moving there. On Monday the ultras started blasting IEDs and the security forces who went inside the jungle got trapped. They started firing indiscriminately after the blast of the IEDs,” said a senior officer.
Some arms and ammunition were also allegedly recovered from the site. However, given the bad connectivity to the location of the encounter, information has been difficult to access.
The jawans are believed to be from the elite Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (COBRA) and were deployed in the state for conducting anti-Maoist operations.