22 bodies of security personnel found at Chhattisgarh encounter site
As many as 22 bodies of soldiers were found from the site of the gunfight that broke out between security forces and Maoists in Chhattisgarh's Bastar region on Saturday. While 32 soldiers were injured, 1 was reported missing. Bijapur's superintendent of police Kamalochan Kashyap confirmed the toll.
The gunfight that broke out in Terram jungles along the borders of Bijapur and Sukma districts also resulted in the death of a suspected Maoist, officials said.
“Some security personnel are missing and a search operation is on. Out of the five personnel, who lost their lives on Saturday, we have recovered the body of two and three are still in the jungle,” DM Awasthi, Chhattisgarh’s director general of police, said.
Earlier in the day, a senior police official said operation to find the missing soldiers was underway and the toll was likely to increase. “The death toll could increase in the next few hours. The teams for evacuation have been sent to the jungles,” he said.
Expressing grief over the incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the soldier's sacrifices 'will never be forgotten'. “My thoughts are with the families of those martyred while fighting Maoists in Chhattisgarh. The sacrifices of the brave martyrs will never be forgotten. May the injured recover at the earliest,” PM Modi tweeted.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh too paid tributes to the security personnel. "They fought with utmost courage, their sacrifice will never be forgotten. My deepest condolences to their families," he said.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi appealed to the state government to help locate the missing soldiers and ensure speedy recoveries of those injured.
"My condolences to the families of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives in combat in Chhattisgarh. Decisive action needs to be taken to locate and rescue the missing Jawans. I appeal to the state govt to ensure best care for a speedy recovery of the injured," he tweeted.
On March 23, five jawans of the District Reserve Guard (DRG) were killed while fourteen others were injured in serial IED blasts after alleged Maoists targeted the bus ferrying them in Narayanpur district of Bastar region.
In a similar incident on March 21 last year, 17 security personnel, including 12 from the DRG, were killed in a Maoist ambush in Sukma district of the region.