Twelve CRPF personnel were killed on Saturdaym and their arms looted when Naxals ambushed their patrol party in the Maoist hotbed of Sukma in Chhattisgarh.
Four personnel were also injured in the Naxal attack, and two of them were stated to be critical.
The incident occurred in the dense forests near Kottacheru village under Bhejji police station, around 450 km away from the state capital, at 9:15 am when 112 personnel of CRPF's 219th battalion were out for a road opening task.
The Bhejji area, in south Bastar region of the state, is notorious for Naxal attacks, and many security personnel have been killed here in the past.
The Naxals also looted ten weapons like INSAS and AK series assault rifles and two radio sets from the killed men, officials said.
"The troops were part of the road clearing party that has been securing an under-construction road between Bhejji and Kottacheru. They were ambushed by Naxals, who set off multiple hidden IEDs on the ground and opened fire. The squad effectively retaliated before twelve made the supreme sacrifice," acting CRPF DG Sudeep Lakhtakia told PTI.
He added that Maoists are trying to disrupt normal life and activities in this area as the Central Reserve Police Force has increased its presence here, and also reopened a local haat (market) last year, after it was forcibly shut by the red ultras.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took stock of the situation and spoke to Home Minister Rajnath Singh who will be travelling to Sukma.
Spoke to Home Minister @rajnathsingh Ji on the situation in Sukma. He is going to Sukma to take stock of the situation.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 11, 2017
Saddened by the killing of CRPF personnel in Sukma. Tributes to the martyrs & condolences to their families. May the injured recover quickly— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 11, 2017
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh has strongly condemned the Maoist attack and described it as a "cowardly act".
Security personnel have laid down their lives to free Bastar from violence and Maoist terror. Their sacrifice will not go in vain. “I salute their sacrifice,” the CM said, adding ultras were frustrated with development of road network in the region.
He also extended condolences to the bereaved families.
The CRPF chief and senior officials are also rushing to Raipur.
A senior Chhattisgarh official told PTI that the road opening party was passing through the forests between Bhejji and Kottacheru villages when Naxals opened indiscriminate fire on them.
According to a CRPF official, summer season is regarded as an offensive period by rebels as they observe annual 'tactical counter offensive campaign' (TCOC).
The dry weather is a favourable period for carrying out ambushes in the vast jungle terrain, and this attack would have been planned by Maoists led by hardcore Naxal cadre Hidma, who is active in southern part of Bastar, the paramilitary official added.
However, further investigation would reveal the details, he added.
The injured have been airlifted and brought to the CRPF field hospital in Bheji, and few others have been transferred to Raipur.
A special counter-Naxal team of CoBRA has been rushed to the ambush spot as reinforcement to sanitise the area and launch a search.
Another senior CRPF officer said the ambush site has very weak mobile phone connectivity and communication is being done through satellite phones.
“It is estimated that a hundred plus Maoist squad was present in the area when the ambush was launched. These are preliminary inputs. More details are awaited,” the officer said.