In a major success for security forces, 12 Maoists, including three women, were shot dead and many more injured in an encounter on Wednesday in a forest in West Midnapore, almost a year after anti-Naxal operations were launched in the district in West Bengal.
"Twelve Maoists were killed by the joint forces. It is a major success. We found eight bodies. We have information that four of the bodies were carried away by Maoists while many more were injured," Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh told reporters in Kolkata.
"Acting on a tip off that 40 to 45 Maoists had gathered at Duli village near Ranja forest in Salboni police station area, a team of commandos and special forces of CRPF and police closed in," the DGP said.
"When the Maoists opened fire, the forces retaliated," Singh said.
He said Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and Union Home Secretary G K Pillai congratulated the joint forces for the successful operation.
"Though none of the bodies has been indentified, there is information that a big Maoist leader is among them," Singh said.
Admitting deaths, Maoist spokesperson Akash told PTI from an undisclosed location that "the joint forces attacked us in the morning. They belonged the to the People's Liberation Guerrilla Army, the armed wing of Maoists. They were asleep at the time."