C'garh: 5 jawans killed, 30 hurt, few missing after encounter with Naxals

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(Eds: Updating) Raipur, Apr 3 (PTI) Five security personnel were killed and 30 others injured on Saturday in an encounter with Naxals in a forest along the border between Bijapur and Sukma districts in Chhattisgarh, police officials said, adding some jawans are missing and efforts are on to trace them.

The body of a woman Maoist was also recovered from the encounter spot, they said.

'Separate joint teams of security forces, over 2,000 in number, had launched a major anti-Naxal operation from Bijapur and Sukma districts in the South Bastar forests, considered as the Maoist stronghold, on Friday night,' state's Deputy Inspector General (anti-Naxal operations) OP Pal said.

The personnel belonging to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), its elite unit CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action), the District Reserve Guard (DRG) and the Special Task Force (STF) were involved in the operation launched from five places - Tarrem, Usoor and Pamed (Bijapur) and Minpa and Narsapuram (Sukma), he said.

'Around noon on Saturday, an encounter broke out between the patrolling team that was dispatched from Tarrem and ultras belonging PLGA (Peoples' Liberation Guerilla Army) battalion of Maoists near Jonaguda village under Jagargunda police station area (in Sukma),' Pal said, adding the gunfight lasted for about three hours.

As per the information received so far, five security personnel have been killed and 30 others injured, he said.

'Among the martyred personnel, one belonged to the CoBRA unit and two each are from the DRG and the 'Bastariya' battalion of the CRPF,' the DIG said.

He said seven injured personnel were airlifted to Raipur and admitted to hospitals there while 23 others are undergoing treatment in the Bijapur district hospital.

'Some jawans are reported to be missing following the encounter and efforts are on to trace their whereabouts,' he added.

Citing the 'ground report', Pal claimed that Maoists have suffered a huge loss in the gunfight.

Condoling the death of the security personnel, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said their sacrifices will never be forgotten.

'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.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has condemned the incident and said the martyrdom of the jawans will not go in vain, and the anti-Naxal operation will be intensified, an official statement said.

'Our jawans have displayed exemplary courage by inflicting massive damage on Naxals (in this incident).

Operation against Naxals will be intensified,' the CM said.

Expressing his condolences, Baghel directed officials to ensure the best treatment to the injured jawans, the release said.

This was the second major Naxal incident in the state in the last 10 days.

On March 23, five DRG personnel were killed when Naxals blew up a bus carrying the security personnel with an IED in Narayanpur district.

On March 21 last year, 17 security personnel, including 12 from DRG, were killed in a Naxal ambush in Minpa area of Sukma district. PTI TKP NSK NSK