Security forces shot dead three more Maoists in the Jantri forests of Malkangiri district in Odisha early Tuesday, taking the toll in one of the biggest encounters with the outlawed extremist outfit to 27.
According to information reaching here, the gun battle, which began on Sunday evening continued till Tuesday, as the special police forces of Andhra and Odisha, supported by anti-Maoist police commandos Greyhounds, chased the fleeing Maoists deep into the Jantri forests abutting Balimela reservoir.
Police sources said the bodies of three Maoists were discovered some time after the encounter resumed on Tuesday.
Twenty four Maoists, including some top leaders and eight women were killed in the encounter on Monday. A Greyhounds commando, who was injured along with another colleague, also succumbed while being shifted to Visakhapatnam.
The post-mortem of all the 24 Maoists killed on Monday was completed at Malkangiri government hospital on Tuesday morning. The police said the bodies would be shifted to Visakhapatnam and would be handed over to their families.
Except two of them, who belonged to Chhattisgarh, all the others belonged to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states. “So far, identity of 14 slain Maoists has been established and the remaining bodies are yet to be identified,” police said.
The site of the encounter in Malkangiri district of Odisha is about 10km from the Andhra border. The Maoists are said to have met for a plenary meeting.
Police seized an assortment of weapons and ammunition including four AK-47 rifles, two SLRs and two INSAS from the site of the encounter on Monday.
Maoist emissary and revolutionary writer P Vara Vara Rao alleged that the shooting was stage-managed, and demanded that bodies be handed to their relatives after autopsy.
The Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee, a human rights group, moved a petition in the high court challenging the killing of 24 Maoists. The court ordered the post-mortem examination in Visakhapatnam, but police said it would be done in Malkangiri since shooting happened in Odisha.Andhra Pradesh police chief N Sambasiva
Rao dismissed allegations that the Maoists were killed in cold blood. He said the rebels were gunned down in an exchange of fire with security forces.