Three Maoists were killed in a gunbattle with police in the forests of Khammam district in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday, taking the number of guerrillas killed in 2006 to 139.
Khammam District Superintendent of Police RK Meena said the Maoists opened fire on the police party engaged in combing operations in Paritala Lanka forests in Kuknoor mandal, forcing the latter to retaliate.
"After some time, police found bodies of three Maoists," he said.
While the guerrillas were yet to be identified, police believe they belonged to the Communist Party of India-Maoist.
A .303 rifle and two spring rifles were recovered from the scene. Police suffered no casualties in the gunbattle.
With these killings, the number of Maoists killed this year went up to 139.
Meanwhile, MA Basit on Sunday assumed office as new director general of police. After taking charge from Swaranjit Sen, he said the current anti-Maoist strategy, which yielded good results, would continue.
Sen, who served as the state police chief for two years, said police had overcome the Maoist problem with people's cooperation. He said the Maoist violence had declined by 65 per cent during 2006.
The number of people killed by Maoists came down to 52 this year from 211 in 2005, he said.
Police also achieved a major success during the year by unearthing 53 arms dumps and recovering huge caches of arms including 875 rocket shells and launchers. Sen said 320 extremists surrendered while 717 of them had been arrested during the year.