At least seven naxals were killed and several others injured in a police encounter on Thursday morning in the Bhatpar jungle of Maharashtra's Gadchiroli district bordering Chhattisgarh.
On Thursday, around 100-armed naxalites were holding a secret meeting in the naxal hotbed, when acting on a tip-off, three separate companies of C-60 — an elite anti-naxal squad — reached the spot, cordoned off the jungle and challenged them.
The ultras retaliated and the gun battle continued for more than two hours.
"The police recovered bodies of five ultras from the spot and bodies would be brought at Allapalli for identification by late night," said Mohd Suvez Mohd Hague, the superintendent of police (SP), Gadchiroli district.
The police have recovered huge arms, ammunition and naxalite literature from the spot.
"We suspect at least ten deaths in the encounter," Hague further claimed.
Bharat Thakur, the sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) of Aheri, who led the operation, suspects more ultras were
"The naxalites took away three bodies during the battle," he said.
"We have already intensified combing operation in the area immediate after the encounter and the toll may rise," Thakur added.
However, not single policemen were injured in the police-naxalite encounter, the district police stated.
Senior police officials, including the DIG Ravindra Kadam, SP Haque and additional SP Rahul Shrirame rushed to Bhamragarh, a tehsil headquarter, about 50km from the spot, after the incident.
This is the biggest offensive by the security agencies in the naxal stronghold of Gadchiroli this year.
In January, the Gadchiroli police had killed six Maoists, including a divisional committee member and a dalam commander.