Three Maoists were gunned down in an encounter with security forces in a forest in Malkangiri district on Saturday, police said.
Acting on a tip-off, a team consisting of Special Operation Group (SOG) and District Voluntary Force (DVF) troops launched an operation in Bhejaguda forest of Mathili area where they came face to face with a group of ultras, Malkangiri Superintendent of Police Mitrabhanu Mohapatra said.
A fierce exchange of fire broke out in which three red rebels, including Darabha Maoist division area committee member Sunadhara and his two body guards were killed, while several others fled, he said.
A pistol, some bladed weapons, walkie talkie sets, Maoist uniforms and literature were recovered from the site.
Sunadhara, who held an important position in Maoist hierarchy, was allegedly involved in many crimes in Mathili area in Odisha and adjoining Darabha region in Chhattisgarh, police said.
Combing and patrolling has been intensified in the area after the incident, they said.