Rahul Gandhi condoles death of 17 jawans in Naxal encounter

New Delhi, Mar 22 (PTI) Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday expressed his condolences as the bodies of 17 security personnel, who were missing after an encounter with Naxals in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh, were found on Sunday.

'I am hurt after hearing the news that 17 jawans were killed and 14 jawans were injured in a clash with Naxals in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh. I express deep condolences toward the families of the martyrs and I pray that the injured will recover soon,' Gandhi said on Twitter.

'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 on Sunday.

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, the officer said, adding that 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. PTI DSP SKC DSP RDM RDM