Suspected Maoist killed in police firing in Kerala Adds details

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Wayanad (Ker), Nov 3 (PTI) A suspected Maoist was killed in an alleged encounter between the Kerala police and some Left extremists in Wayanad district early on Tuesday, police said.

The Opposition Congress has condemned the incident and demanded an independent probe.

Police identified the deceased as Velmurugan, 33, hailing from Tamil Nadu's Theni district.

The firing between the Thunderbolt, an elite commando force of state police specialised in combating extremists, and the suspected ultras took place in the nearby Banasura forest area under Padinjarethara police station limits.

Wayanad SPG Poonguzhali told the media that the exchangeof fire between the commandos and the ultras lasted from 9.15 AM till around 10 AM.

'After that the police team found one body during the inspection.Police cordonedoff the area and the inquest process was completed in the presence of executive magistrate and sub-collector.

The body was shifted to Kozhikode medical college,' she said.

Poonguzhali said the Thunderbolt team regularly conducts combing operations in the region and saw the gang comprising five to six persons today.

'They saw the Maoists who fired first.Then the police personnel divided into two teams and returned fire.

The gangran into the forest and there was a chance that they may come back and fire again and because of that the media was not allowed into the area,' she said.

Police said they found Velmurugan, wearing a uniform, dead and a 0.303 rifle with him.

Hitting out at the LDF government, leader of opposition in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala said: 'This is the eight Maoist killed since the Left government came to power.It's surprising that the killing is happening under the communist rule.' 'There are allegations that these are illegal encounters.An independent probe should be conducted into the incident,' Chennithala said in a statement.

Ballistic and forensic experts have collected evidence from the scene.

In March last year, a Maoist leader C P Jaleel was shot dead at a resort near Vythiri in Wayanad.

Four Maoists were killed in an exchange of fire during a two-day police combing operation in Palakkad district that started on October 28 this year.

Police had identified the four Maoists who were gunned down as Karthi, Rema, Aravind and Manivasagan.

Kuppuswamy Devaraj, 65, and Ajitha, 45, were killed in an alleged encounter with police in Nilambur forests on November 24, 2016.

Police said security has been tightened at 11 check posts at the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border following the killing of the suspected ultra.PTI RRT NVM COR BN WELCOME BN WELCOME