Seven policemen were killed and 10 injured in an ambush by Maoists in the hilly terrain of Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district on Saturday, one of the worst attacks by the rebels in recent months.
“We lost seven jawans. The encounter took place in the remote interior inhospitable area. The injured jawans are being airlifted to Raipur by chopper for immediate medical attention,” additional director general of police (anti-Maoist operation) RK Vij said.
The condition of two injured policemen was described as critical.
There was no report of casualties among the rebels. Officials said a group of about 300 Maoists opened heavy fire on the police team at around 9.15am when it was conducting a search operation in the jungles of the district, about 390km south of state capital Raipur.
They said the 70 personnel strong STF squad was confronted with a volley of bullets in the jungles which is at the south axis of the Dornapal-Chintagufa area where several ambushes and killings of security forces had taken place in the past including the most deadly when 76 personnel were killed here in 2010.
The Maoists looted the arms of the dead policemen.
“Our operation will continue”, Vij said after the attack, one of the worst in recent months.
Two teams of the Central Reserve Police Force were rushed to the area to assist the police in carrying out cordon-and-search operations.
The dead policemen were identified as Platoon Commander Shankar Rao, Head Constables Rohit Sodhi and Manoj Baghel and Constables Mohan VK, Rajkumar Markam, Kiran Deshmukh and Rajman Tekam.
Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh has condemned the attack.
Sukma is one of the areas hit hardest by Maoist violence in Chhattisgarh.
The Maoists are believed to be present in at least 20 states, but are most active in Chhattisgarh. The guerrillas often collect funds through extortion and protection rackets.
Home minister Rajnath Singh spoke to chief minister Raman Singh over the phone who apprised him about the situation in Sukma.
"Extra CRPF teams have been rushed to the spot. I salute the bravery of our security personnel who laid down their lives while fighting the Naxals. I wish for speedy recovery of the injured," Rajnath said.