Registering a major victory in the ongoing war against rebels, the Maharashtra Police on Friday gunned down most-wanted 13 Maoists, including 7 women, in a fierce gun-battle in the deep forests near Etapally, officials said here.

The 90-minute encounter between the Maoists and the crack force of C-60 commandos, which started around 6 am today in the Paydi-Kotmi jungles, may have resulted in at least 4-5 more of the rebels getting injured but they escaped in the jungle.

Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil visited the Gadchiroli Police headquarters to personally congratulate the teams and the top police officers including Sanjay Saxena, Sandip Patil, Ankit Goyal, Manish Kalvaniya, Sameer Shaikh and Somay Munde, Bhausaheb Dhole, all IPS, among others.

J&K encounter

An official spokesperson for the Anti Naxal Operations (ANO) unit said that early Friday, following a tip-off that a group of Maoists were planning to come to the local villages for its regular extortion purposes, a team of C-60 commandos was deployed to carry out combing operation in the forests.

How the encounter began?

At that time, a gang of around 60-70 heavily armed Maoists began firing indiscriminately in the direction of the police teams.

The police first made appeals to the rebels to lay down arms and surrender, but they failed to comply and the commandos replied by firing at the Maoists.

Maoist rebels
[Representational Image]Vanguard

After an encounter lasting for about 90 minutes, the Maoists made good their escape in the thick forests, ending the dawn firing in which the police extracted a heavy toll on the rebels' side.

A subsequent search of the vicinity revealed the bodies of 13 Maoists, including 7 women and six men, carrying a collective reward of Rs.60-lakhs on their heads, and they belonged to the dreaded groups active locally.

The police also recovered a cache of weapons like one AK-47 and one stengun,, 5 SLRs, three 303 revolvers, two 8mm guns, one pistol, and a huge stock of ammunition and explosives, besides articles of daily use from what appeared to be a temporary camp area.

The district police and surroundings have been put on alert in other talukas for any retaliatory attacks by the Maoists.

This is the second important success in the anti-Maoist crusade of the Maharashtra Police in the past 7 months after an October 2020 encounter in Gyarapatti forests saw 5 Maoists, including 3 women, shot dead.

(With inputs from IANS)