Security forces killed at least 10 Maoists on Saturday evening in a jungle battle in Koraput district of Orissa.
The combined forces of Orissa Police’s Special Operations Group, Andhra Pradesh’s Greyhound and the Border Security Force carried out the operation in the Gumandi forest in Narayanpatna, about 500 km southwest of Bhubaneswar.
The operation came a day after the Central Reserve Police Force brass held talks on anti-Maoist strategies with Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
Also, the home ministry will hold a meeting in New Delhi on May 10 with top officials of the six Maoist-hit states, including Orissa, as part of the efforts to fine-tune anti-Naxal strategies.
On Saturday, the forces received information that about 50 Maoists, including some top leaders from Andhra Pradesh, had assembled in the jungle. The encounter began at 5.30 pm and was on for three hours.
“They (the police) believe that some Maoists have been affected and injured during the encounter,” Patnaik told reporters here on Sunday.
Prakash Mishra, DGP (operations), told HT: “They (Maoists) have suffered heavy casualties. It isn’t known exactly how many have died, as we have not recovered any body yet.”
Mishra’s claims seem to be based on some telltale signs, such as about 12 kit bags left behind, bloodstains and marks of bodies having been dragged away from the spot. The Maoists retreated deeper into the forest after the operation.
Koraput District SP Anup Kumar Sahoo said the picture would be clear once the security personnel returned from the jungles of Narayanpatna.
Mostly tribal, Narayanpatna is one of the most impoverished pockets of Orissa and is a forested region bordering Andhra Pradesh. It offers a sheltering zone for the Maoists, who often find an easy ally among local tribals fighting against alleged land alienation.
The area, which is also home to rich bauxite reserves and a destination for aluminum companies looking to set up new factories, has lately turned into a war zone between the Maoists and security forces.