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HomeIndiaMaoists kill 17 personnel in Sukma gun battle after ambushing large encounter...

Maoists kill 17 personnel in Sukma gun battle after ambushing large encounter team

Chhattisgarh govt and police say the gun battle lasted nearly 3 hours, and the security forces’ team inflicted heavy casualties on the Maoists too.

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Raipur: The Chhattisgarh government has confirmed the death of 17 security personnel, who went missing Saturday evening when Maoists ambushed a joint team of forces in Sukma district of Bastar.

The team of around 450 personnel, drawn from various security forces, had gone to conduct an encounter against a huge gathering of Naxals under the forest cover near Nipma and Elmaguda villages, under the Chintagufa police station.

Sources in the state police told ThePrint that the Maoists seemed to have an inkling that the team was coming for them. A source told ThePrint that the Maoists “allowed” the team to get deep into the forest to gain the upper hand, and then ambushed it, leading to the massive gun battle.

Five of the personnel killed belonged to a Special Task Force of the Chhattisgarh police, while the other 12 were from the District Reserve Guard (DRG). The DRG men are said to have been the main target of the ultras.


Also read: 38 leaders of banned CPI (Maoist) are in Chhattisgarh’s most-wanted list, show records


‘Heavy Maoist casualties too’

The state government Sunday put out a list of names of the deceased personnel, and claimed a large number of Maoists were also killed in the gun battle, which lasted for around two-and-a-half hours.

Speaking to ThePrint, Sukma SP Shalabh Sinha said: “Around 450 security personnel including those from STF, DRG and CRPF’s CoBRA unit were dispatched from Burkapal, Chintagufa and Timelwada police station area camps to counter the presence of nearly 350 armed Naxals gathered at Nipma village forest cover.”

He added: “It was a massive gathering of Maoists and the gun battle went on for around two-and-a-half or three hours. Unfortunately, we lost 17 jawans in the battle, and the injured were airlifted to Raipur for medical aid. There were many casualties among the Maoists as well. Dead bodies of the jawans have been recovered.”

Although the police and the Chhattisgarh government, including Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, have claimed massive casualties inflicted on the Naxals, no figures have been disclosed yet.

The government had earlier stated in a media release Saturday night that around 13 security personnel went missing following the battle with the Maoists, while 14 injured were airlifted to Raipur. Injured jawans were rushed directly from the airport to Ramakrishna Care Hospital.

‘DRG men were the target’

A senior police officer engaged in anti-Naxal operations in Bastar informed ThePrint that the main target in this ambush were the DRG men — mainly former Naxals who have gotten employed by the state to work with anti-Maoists forces.

The DRG is stated to be the key reason behind the reduction in Maoist violence in the last few years, as the state government claimed in 2018. This is mainly because DRG men are well-versed with the lay of the land, and other aspects of the Maoist cadre.

The Nipma forest area is considered to be a Naxal stronghold in Sukma, manned by one of their most dreaded leaders, Hidma, who has a Rs 40 lakh bounty on his head.


Also read: Dreaded Naxal Hidma is the new Maoist militia leader in Chhattisgarh


 

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