Chhattisgarh naxal attack: '400 Maoists ambushed security personnel from three sides'

 NEW DELHI: A large group of nearly 400 Maoists had ambushed security personnel who were deployed in the forests of Chhattisgarh for a major anti-Naxalite operation, PTI reported quoting official sources. 

At least 22 personnel have lost their lives and several others injured in the deadly ambush, the second major Maoist attack in 10 days.

Union home minister Amit Shah said the exact number of casualties is yet to be ascertained.

Sources said that a contingent of about 1,500 troops drawn from CRPF'S specialised jungle warfare unit CoBRA, some teams from its regular battalions, a unit of its Bastariya battalion, the Chhattisgarh Police affiliated District Reserve Guard (DRG) and others had launched a search and destroy operation along the border of Bijapur-Sukma district around Saturday noon after they got inputs of some Maoists presence in the area.
They were ambushed by 400 Maoists - led by most wanted Maoist commander and leader of the so-called 'People's Liberation Guerrilla Army(PLGA) battalion no 1 - Hidma - along with his associates, sources said.
An encounter broke out between the Maoists and security forces which went on for more than five hours.
The Maoists rained bullets from light machine guns (LMGs) and used low-intensity improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to mount the attack.
An officer told PTI that the Maoists carried their dead, estimated to be about 10-12, on tractor trolleys.
"Inputs were received that Naxals were undertaking their Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC) campaign in the Jagargunda-Jongaguda-Tarrem axis, and hence security forces teams from six camps were deputed to intercept them.
"The Maoists drew the forces into an ambush with heavy gunfire soon after, and helicopter sorties were requisitioned to evacuate the injured personnel," a senior security officer told PTI.
He said the Maoists encircled the security personnel from three sides and a heavy gun-battle ensued in the jungles which are devoid of any foliage at present.
Another officer posted in Chhattisgarh said the operation was being monitored by two Inspector General (IG) rank officers of the state police and the Central Reserve Police Force from Jagdalpur in Bastar.
"The rescue choppers could not land in the ambush area around 2 PM when they were sent for a casualty evacuation mission as a heavy exchange of firing was taking place. The helicopter landed only around 5 PM to pick up the casualties," another officer said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to condole the death of security personnel.
"My thoughts are with the families of those martyred while fighting Maoists in Chhattisgarh. The sacrifices of the brave martyrs will never be forgotten. May the injured recover at the earliest." Modi said in a tweet.
Union home minister Amit Shah said a befitting reply will be given to the Maoist attack in Chhatisgarh at an appropriate time. 



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