Three special police officers (SPOs) were killed in a fierce gun battle on Sunday with dozens of Maoist insurgents in restive Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, police said.
The gun battle took place in a hamlet in the middle of a thick forest in Dantewada district, some 500 km south of Raipur.
Rebels opened fire on a 130-member police party of the district Force and the SPOs, who returned fire from a picket in the Kistaram area, leading to a fierce gun battle in which three SPOs were killed on the spot, Pawan Deo, deputy inspector general at the police headquarters, told IANS.
Police officials in Dantewada district claimed to have killed up to eight insurgents in the gun battle, but failed to recover even a single dead body to substantiate their claim.
Maoists had attacked a police helicopter in the same area on Friday, killing a police constable and injuring another. The helicopter was partially damaged after it was hit by two bullets but the pilot managed to fly it off to safety.