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Search on for Maoists, 3 cops killed

india Updated: Feb 17, 2008 14:00 IST

IANS
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Security personnel engaged Maoists in a fierce gunbattle in the jungles of Orissa's Ganjam district on Sunday, a day after the rebels raided several police posts in the state and escaped with hundreds of guns after killing 14 policemen. Three security men were killed.

Security forces intensified combing operations after the Maoists' overnight attack in the district of Nayagarh, the most daring strike so far this year.

"Three security personnel were killed in the gunbattle in Gosna hill in Ganjam," Tushar Kanti Misra, secretary in the home department, told IANS.

The police are combing jungles in the district of Nayagarh and neighbouring Ganjam and Boudh, where the Maoists are suspected to have fled.

According to Director General of Police Gopal Chandra Nanda, police spotted Maoists at Gosna hill, some 300 km in the southern district of Ganjam.

"A gunbattle is going on between police and Maoists for several hours in this hill," Nanda told IANS.

According to a senior official of the home department, at least 600 policemen are combing the area to nab the Maoists. He said the government was going to deploy at least 200 Greyhound crack police force in the region.

The government has also deployed two helicopters to take any injured to hospital, he said.

Maoist rebels shot dead 14 policemen in multiple attacks on police stations and a government armoury in Nayagarh district Friday night and early Saturday, and escaped with hundreds of police rifles and boxes of ammunition.

A home department official said the attack is suspected to be the handiwork of Maoist leader Sabysachi Panda because he hails from Nayagarh district.

Meanwhile, an alert has been sounded in neighbouring Jharkhand in the wake of the Maoist attack in Orissa.

Jharkhand police chief VD Ram has asked police chiefs in Maoist-affected areas to beef up security at police stations, especially where weapons are kept.

Jharkhand has also sealed its border with Orissa so that the rebels do not sneak into the state.

Seven Maoist rebels were killed in Jamshedpur three days ago, of whom five were killed by the village defence committee members.

"We have got information that the Maoist rebels are strengthening their positions in Saranda and Parasnath jungles. Extra vigil is being kept on the jungle and bordering areas," a police official said.