A considerable number of Maoists are believed to have been killed in retaliatory action by CRPF personnel after an attack in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district that killed at least 25 soldiers, the force has said.
The paramilitary force said in a statement about 300 to 400 Maoists “ambushed” a patrol party, the deadliest ambush by the rebels this year that was condemned by President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
It said on Monday two companies of the 74th battalion were out on operation to provide security to people engaged in constructing a road to connect Burkapal to Chintagufa in the area.
There were 99 personnel out on the operation. A CRPF company has a strength of about 100 personnel.
It said the ensuing gun battle was “fierce”. The CRPF troops replied in a befitting manner but taking advantage of their geographical position, Maoists succeeded in inflicting loss on the force.
“Twenty-four brave soldiers were martyred and one succumbed to his injuries while being evacuated to a hospital in Raipur,” the statement read.
25 brave soldiers of 74 Bn, CRPF martyred & 06 critically injured in an encounter with Maoists today at Burkapal in Sukma, Chhattisgarh— CRPF (@crpfindia) April 24, 2017
The party was ambushed by a group of about “300-400 Maoist cadres at 12:30pm at Kalapattar near Burkapal”.
The area is close to the Chintagufa-Burkapal-Bheji axis, the hotbed of Maoist violence which has seen a number of such attacks in the past resulting in high casualties.
“A considerable number of Maoists are believed to have been eliminated (in retaliatory action by CRPF men) as the tell-tale sign indicate from the ground,” the statement added.
The bodies of all soldiers, it said, were airlifted to Raipur, while six soldiers injured in the ambush were admitted to a hospital in the state capital.
CRPF director general (acting) Sudeep Lakhtakia and senior officials of the operations directorate of the force are expected to visit the site on Tuesday to “take stock of the situation”. Union home minister Rajnath Singh and his junior colleague in the ministry, Hansraj G Ahir, are also expected to travel to Raipur.
An injured soldier, brought to a Raipur hospital, said: “The Naxals (Maoists) first sent villagers to check our position...I also saw some women Naxals. They were all wearing black uniforms and had sophisticated weapons like the AK series assualt rifles.”