Police: 19 Naxals killed in encounter
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At least 19 suspected Maoists were killed in two places a few kilometers apart from each other in Chhattisgarh on Friday, with the state police describing it as their "biggest encounter" in the state with the extremists. They said the shootout was a joint operation by the CoBRA, STF and district police and 17 Maoists were killed in Sarkeguda in Bijapur district. The other two were killed in Jagargunda, Sukma.
Unusually, the forces managed to recover all the bodies even though the encounter took place late at night and deep in the jungles, about 400 km south of Raipur. Maoists rarely leave behind bodies of their cadres and forces are generally not known to recover any of them.
Among those killed in Sarkeguda was Madkam Suresh, the alleged mastermind of the 2007 Dantewada jailbreak in which 299 prisoners had escaped, police said. A 15-year-old girl Kumari Kaka, a resident of Kottaguda village, was among the Maoists killed in Sarkeguda. Ten of those killed were aged between 15 and 28. Two were 18 and two others, 19.
Ten Maoists and six CoBRA constables were also injured in the fighting. Two of the 10 injured Maoists and six injured CoBRA constables were brought to Raipur on Friday morning. One injured Maoist died in a Bijpaur hospital.
The operation began on Thursday night with the forces marching towards an undisclosed destination in Bijapur from three directions —- Basaguda (Bijapur), Jagargunda (Sukma) and Chintalnar (Sukma).
"We got inputs that two Maoist companies of around 200 armed cadres from Odisha are camping in Basaguda area. They were here to provide protection to a significant Maoist movement. The operation was to attack the Odisha teams but our forces met resistance before we could reach the spot," ADG of Police (Naxal), Ramnivas, told The Indian Express.
"Of the killed, six are hardcore Naxals, the rest are hardcore members of Jan Militia," he said, referring to a grassroot support organization of the Maoists. All three teams were involved in the firefight with the one at Sarkeguda being the longest as it began at 12.45 am and lasted until around 3 am. The team from Chintalnar did not report any Maoist casualty.
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