Raipur, March 11 (IANS) At least 18 people, including 15 security personnel and a villager, were killed Tuesday in a Maoist attack on CRPF and police men in a thickly forested part of Chhattisgarh, police said.
Earlier reports said that at least 20 security personnel were killed in the attack in Sukma district, about 500 km south of Raipur in the Bastar region.
According to the latest inputs, however, the toll among the security forces appears to be 15 — 11 from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and four from the state police. Their bodies have been recovered from the site.
Besides, a villager was killed in the ambush. Police also claim to have found two more bodies which have not been identified as yet.
An estimated 300 Maoist guerrillas ambushed and fired indiscriminately at 50-55 men from the CRPF and police patrol on a remote stretch of a forested road in Gheeram Ghati, a senior officer said.
“It was a deadly ambush,” Additional Director General of Police Mukesh Gupta told IANS.
He said the ambush site appeared to be the same place where Maoists massacred 27 people, including senior Congress leaders, in May last year.
Gupta said even as the Maoist attack triggered a gun battle, the guerrillas also exploded bombs, causing more damage to the security patrol that was passing through the area.
Police admitted that exact details of the casualties were not yet known, and that the number of dead may go up.
It was also not clear if any of the attackers, who were from the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist, were also killed.
The authorities rushed reinforcements to the area but it was not clear when they will reach the ambush site. Helicopters were also pressed into service.
Normally, Maoist guerrillas carry out well-planned hit-and-run attacks on security forces, using the topography to their advantage, and routinely escape with the weapons of the dead.
The vast interior parts of southern Chhattisgarh, which are heavily forested and populated by poor tribals, have been strongholds of the Maoists since the 1980s.
The CPI-Maoist is known to run a virtual parallel administration in these areas.