Five security personnel, including two CRPF and three DRG men of the state police, were killed and 20 suffered injuries in a gun battle with Maoists in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district.
At least two Maoists' bodies were also visible on the spot near Tekulgudem village under Tarrem police station where the shootout began at noon on Saturday in a deep forested interior area with a group of over 300 Maoists. There were reports of heavy damage to the Maoists but nothing specific could be established by the administration as the operation was still on.
It was a joint anti-Maoist operation conducted by the CRPF's elite unit CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action), the District Reserve Guard (DRG) and the Special Task Force (STF), the CRPF said. The operation is still on and additional security forces have been pressed to the spot to support the personnel engaged in the exchange of fire.
"Two CRPF personnel and three state police personnel lost their lives during the CASO (Cordon and Search Operation) conducted by a joint team of security forces that included the CRPF, and Chhattisgarh's DRG and STF teams," CRPF IG C.G. Arora told IANS. The officer said that around 20 security personnel were injured in the operation.
"It was a dense forested area where the incident took place. This is the core Maoist area. This is an interior place inside the jungle where access is very limited. Helicopter support is also being provided to the party." Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel expressed deep sorrow over the deaths of the five security personnel.
Campaign against Maoists
Expressing condolences to the families of the slain security personnel, Baghel said, "The martyrdom of the security forces will not go in vain. Our soldiers have also done great harm to the Maoists. Security forces will campaign against Maoists even more rapidly." The Chief Minister later directed officials to provide better treatment facilities to the injured.
On March 23, five personnel of the District Reserve Guard were killed and several were injured in an IED blast -- the first major Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh this year -- in what the police said was a Maoist strike targeting a bus carrying more than 20 security personnel.
The security personnel were travelling as part of an anti-Maoist operation in the dense Abujhmad forests when the blast occurred at around 4.15 p.m., on the Kanhargaon-Kadenar road.
Meanwhile, five Maoists, one of them allegedly involved in the killing of four policemen after abducting them in 2015, were arrested last month from two places in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district.