'Nation owes enormous debt': Sonia Gandhi on deaths in Chhattisgarh Maoist attack
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday condoled the death of 22 security personnel in the Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh and said that the nation owes an enormous debt of gratitude to the slain soldiers.
The soldiers, deployed on a special operation, were killed in a gunbattle with the Maoists on Saturday. While five bodies were recovered on Saturday, 17 more were found on Sunday, the police said. They added that a group of around 400 Maoists were involved in the attack.
"The entire country bows before the martyrdom of 22 jawans in the gruesome naxal attack in Bijapur, Chhattisgarh. I pay homage to these jawans who have given their lives, and heartfelt condolences to their families. The Nation owes an enormous debt of gratitude to them," Sonia Gandhi said in a statement.
Gandhi added that she is fervently hoping for the return of soldiers who are still missing and looks forward to the complete recovery of those injured.
"We are united in our resolve to combat naxalism. The Chhattisgarh Congress government shall continue to provide all assistance to our Central Paramilitary Forces in fighting naxalism with full rigour," the statement shared by the Indian National Congress on Twitter read.
At least 30 soldiers were injured in the biggest massacre in more than a year.
The ambush took place in a forest along the border between Bijapur and Sukma districts in Chhattisgarh, police said.
The soldiers who have been killed include personnel from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), its elite unit CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action) and the District Reserve Guard (DRG), the police said.
The bloodied attack forced the Union home minister Amit Shah to cut short his visit to poll-bound Assam, who returned to Delhi in the wake of the attack.
Shah took stock of the situation and said the search operation is still on.
The exact number of casualties, the home minister said, is still being ascertained. "As far as the numbers are concerned, both sides have suffered losses and exact casualty figures cannot be ascertained immediately," Shah said.