Chandigarh Maoists encounter: 17 cops killed

Chandigarh Maoists encounter: 17 cops killed
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel meets injured police personnel, at Ramkrishna Care Hospital in Raipur, on Sunday (Right Image)

Bodies of 17 security personnel, who were missing after an encounter with Naxals in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh, were found on Sunday, police said.

Raipur : Bodies of 17 security personnel, who were missing after an encounter with Naxals in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh, were found on Sunday, police said.

"Bodies of 17 security personnel were recovered by a search team and were being evacuated from forests," Inspector General of Police (Bastar range) Sundarraj P told PTI.

Earlier, in a major joint offensive, separate teams of nearly 600 personnel belonging to the District Reserve Guard (DRG), Special Task Force (STF) and Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA)- an elite unit of CRPF, launched an anti-Naxal operation from three sides towards Elmagunda after getting inputs about a huge gathering of ultras there on Saturday.

When the patrolling teams were near Minpa village forests, a group of around 250 heavily armed ultras ambushed them, leaving 15 personnel injured, he said. The gun battle lasted for about two-and-a-half hours, he said.

"Later, 17 personnel were found to be missing for which a search operation was launched. Today, their bodies have been recovered and the search team is on the way back, he said.

Earlier, the police in a statement said 14 police personnel were injured and 13 were missing after the gunfight.

The injured personnel were airlifted to Raipur and admitted to a private hospital where the condition of two of them is stated to be critical, he said.

According to police sources, at least 16 automatic weapons, including AK47 and an Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL) were missing following the encounter.

'Forces going deeper'

Aided by latest surveillance tools in the sky, security agencies are now going deeper into naxal strongholds as these new capabilities provide "real-time" information and guide the forces on "adversary" movements, CRPF chief A P Maheshwari has said.

He said the CRPF has procured latest unmanned aerial vehicles and thermal scanners and the lead anti-Maoist force was using these tools in combination with ground intelligence from multiple sources.

A new "synergy and collaboration" is being worked out between his force, state police units and intelligence agencies to end the Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) in near future, the CRPF director general said.

"There are certain intelligence agencies which are good at aerial survey and we have integrated those capabilities with the ground level troops and when we are conducting operations, those aerial surveys keep guiding us about the physical location and hideouts of the adversary (Maoists)," Maheshwari told PTI.

"Real-time observation from the sky and its integration with other inputs are the few major changes we have undertaken and that is one reason we recently were able to go deep into the stronghold of naxals in Chhattisgarh."

Maheshwari, a 1984-batch Uttar Pradesh cadre IPS officer, said the in-roads made by his force and other agencies have broken the myth that security forces cannot reach interior naxal hotbeds.

He said the forces, led by the Central Reserve Police Force, have gained "more insight" into the Maoist terrain to undertake a "realistic" SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities and threats) analysis.

"We are getting good results and nothing succeeds like success," he said, adding, "The war against naxals is now a war of perception and social integration".

During his recent visit to Chhattisgarh, Maheshwari directed his units and other forces to hit the core naxal areas, such as the south Bastar region of the state.

"The forces are now further augmenting their capacities in terms of equipment, in terms of operational planning and assessment and in terms of intelligence inputs.

I am quite positive and optimistic that in times to come the day is not far when we can further bring it (LWE menace) down to a negligible level," the DG said.

He said it is being ensured that all steps are taken to keep the morale of the fighting troops high and that they are provided critical health care in the least possible time.

"We realised that the evacuation of troops injured in combat was taking time and couple of them lost their lives...they could have been saved had the chopper that came in to lift them possessed medical care facility on-board," he said.

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