Six Naxals killed in gunbattle with security forces
NEW DELHI : fAt least six Naxals were killed in a fierce gunbattle with security forces in Orissa's Koraput district on Sunday, police said.
Senior police officers engaged in the anti-Maoist operation in a forest of Podapadar area in Narayanpatna said, "On the basis of indications from the encounter site...at least six Maoists have been killed."
Earlier reports spoke of at least 10 Maoists being killed in the encounter.
Police, however, said they were yet to recover bodies.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said during the encounter "there were a number of injuries and also perhaps some Maoists were killed".
"The exchange of fire which began last night between the rebels and a joint team of Orissa police, Greyhound and BSF in Podapadar forest, about 100 km from here, ended this morning after Maoists fled," SP Koraput Anup Kumar Sahoo said.
There are blood stains and signs of a couple of bodies having been dragged from the site by the ultras while fleeing, Sahoo said.
Stating that Maoists generally do not leave behind bodies of their cadre in encounter sites, a senior police officer said security men who took part in the operation appeared to have seen rebels carrying away a couple of injured ultras or bodies while fleeing the site.
While a chopper was pressed into service to conduct aerial search and scanning after the encounter, massive combing operation was conducted in the entire area, police sources said.
DG (Intelligence) Prakash Mishra said besides kit bags, some explosives, land mines, Maoist literature and other articles, apparently left behind by the red rebels, were found from the area during search.
Police said blood stains and dragging marks could be seen along the route in which the Maoists retreated after the exchange of fire.
The encounter took place after a joint team of Orissa police, elite Greyhound force of Andhra Pradesh and BSF spotted some armed ultras near a hilly area as the rebels opened fire seeing the police who promptly retaliated, police sources said adding the number of ultras engaged in the encounter was yet to be ascertained.
"Likelihood of casualties among the Maoists is high, but we are yet to recover any body after the intense gunbattle. The ultras always try not to leave bodies of their cadres in encounter sites," Sahoo said.
The gunbattle came a day after top CRPF brass held discussions about anti-Maoist strategies with the Orissa chief minister.
It also came on the eve of a high-level meeting convened by the Union Home Ministry in New Delhi on May 10 with top officials of six Maoist-hit states, including Orissa as part of efforts to fine-tune anti-Naxal strategies, official sources said.