New Delhi / Raipur: The ambush, which left 22 security personnel killed in Chhattisgarh, was led by some 400 Maoists, who surrounded the troops from three sides in an area devoid of vegetation and were attacked by machine guns on them for several hours. The IED continued to rain, the official said on Sunday. Some 10–12 Naxalites are believed to have been killed in fierce shelling.
There were about 1,500 soldiers of security forces from the Special Jungle Warfare Unit of the Central Reserve Police Force, Cobra, its regular battalion, a unit of its Bastaria battalion, the District Reserve Guard (DRG) affiliated to the Chhattisgarh Police and others. He had conducted a search and destruction operation along the Bijapur-Sukma district border after receiving input from the presence of Naxalites in the area.
Officials said that after receiving intelligence that retaliation was being carried out in the area, a contingent of about 790 personnel arrived at dawn on the Jagargunda-Jongaguda-Tarrim axis.
At least 400 Naxalites are suspected to be under the leadership of the most wanted Maoist commander and the so-called ‘People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) battalion No.1– Hidma– and its ally Sujatha. The Maoists have a strong hold due to difficult terrain, large areas of forests and a small number of security forces camps, an official said.
Out of a total of 22 fatal incidents, the CRPF lost eight people, including seven Cobra commandos, while one jawan is from Bastaria battalion and the rest are from DRG and Special Task Force. A CRPF inspector is still missing, he said.
“The Maoists ambushed the army with heavy firepower and surrounded the security forces from three sides. Heavy firing started in the jungles.”
Light machine guns (LMGs) and bullets rained down from the Naxals, the Naxals used low-intensity improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to mount the attack which continued for several hours.
The helicopters, which were required to evacuate the injured personnel, could make their first landing shortly after 5 pm after the shelling ended.
He said that the security personnel took cover from behind large trees and kept firing till the shelling was avoided.
At one location, he said seven bodies of soldiers were recovered and tree sticks showed bullet marks, indicating that a fierce gun fight had taken place in the area.
Nearly two dozen state-of-the-art attacks of the slain soldiers are also said to have been looted by the Naxalites, even as security officials said that the search was on in the area and details were being collected from the ground. Maoists carried their dead between about 10-12 on tractor trolleys.
Another officer posted in Chhattisgarh said that the operation is being monitored by two Inspector General (IG) rank officers of the State Police and Central Reserve Police Force from Jagdalpur in Bastar.
Officials said that while the maximum security personnel were killed due to the bullet, one person is suspected of being unconscious and later killed due to dehydration and other issues.
“Security forces personnel, especially the Cobra commandos, fought valiantly and ensured that the Naxals could not prolong the ambush despite having an advantage,” the official said.