The bodies of seven policemen gunned down by Maoist rebels in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district were retrieved on Sunday, more than 24 hours after they were ambushed as the evacuation was hampered by bad weather and inhospitable terrain.
The bodies of the Special Task Force personnel were taken to Kankerlanka camp, located 12 km from the site of the ambush, amid tight security, additional director general of police R K Vij said.
“From Kankerlanka, the bodies will be airlifted to Jagdalpur district headquarter, where tribute would be paid to the martyrs," he said.
More than 300 personnel from the state police, CRPF and elite Cobra force were involved in the evacuation operation.
Earlier, state home minister Ram Sewak Paikra said bad weather had prevented security forces from reaching the spot to recover the bodies.
Armed rebels ambushed a STF squad of about 50 policemen while they were on a search operation on Saturday and gunned down seven personnel at Pidmel village, 450 km from state capital Raipur.
Ten others were injured in a fierce gun battle with the rebels. Seven policemen with critical injuries were airlifted to Raipur on Saturday evening.
A senior CRPF officer told Hindustan Times that the site of the gun battle was located in inhospitable terrain that was not easy to reach in existing weather conditions. As it was not possible to land a helicopter at the spot, security forces had to move on foot to recover the bodies.
The injured policemen admitted to a private nursing home in Raipur said they were surrounded by more than 200 Maoists, who fired on them from different directions.
They claimed they did not get any timely help from the state police or CRPF when they were trapped for nearly four hours following the ambush. The rebels looted the sophisticated weapons, shoes and belts of the dead policemen.
Sukma is one of the seven districts of Bastar zone that has been hit hardest by Maoist violence. Saturday’s ambush was one of the worst attacks on security personnel in recent months.
(With agency inputs)