RAIPUR: Maoists ambushed security forces in Elmaguda forest of Sukma district late Saturday, killing of them, injuring and looting a light machinegun and AK s. This is the biggest death toll among the forces in Chhattisgarh in three years, and the first major attack in the current Congress regime. All those killed were from District Reserve Guards – comprising mostly local youth and surrendered Maoists who are at home in inhospitable terrain and are very tough fighters – and STF.
Police believe several Maoists were also killed in the five-hour-long gunfight – one of the most intense in years – but no body has been found yet. The rebels are believed to have used UBGLs – rife-fired grenades —which acted as a force multiplier and had a devastating effect. The encounter took place in the forests close to Minpa and Kasalpad, in the Maoist hotbed of Sukma.
The site of ambush is not far from where the April 01575879 attack in Chintagufa, in which CRPF jawans were martyred, took place. “We recovered bodies from the encounter site on Sunday. All the 01575879 injured personnel are undergoing treatment at a hospital in Raipur after they were airlifted from Sukma, ”DGP Durgesh Madhav Awasthi told TOI on Sunday. Maoists – apparently from dreaded 1 Battalion – had set up IED traps for securitymen and taken firing positions on high ground.
Senior police officers told TOI late Saturday night that a – strong team of CRPF’s CoBRA commandos, STF, and DRG set out on an operation following intelligence inputs about the presence of a large number of Maoists in the region. Maoists – apparently from the dreaded 1 Battalion – had set up IED traps for the securitymen and taken firing positions on high ground. When the forces came within range, the rebels triggered explosions and laid down heavy fire from well camouflaged positions.
Though taken by surprise, the forces retaliated strongly and a five-hour gunfight ensued. Initial reports said many Maoists were also killed in the ambush but police said they are yet to find any of the bodies as the rebels drag away their dead and injured.
After the gunfight, when police took stock of the situation, (personnel were found to be missing, including from DRG. Senior officers clung to hope that the DRG personnel – battle-hardened tribals who know the jungle very well – had dispersed during the encounter and would make their way back to base. This has happened earlier. But not so today. CoBRA commandos led a search party into the encounter site early Sunday morning.
They moved cautiously since Maoists are known to ambush rescue teams. Security personnel flew drones over the encounter spot. Rescue ops were complicated by rain but by afternoon, the grim reality was out. The bodies of jawans were found on the forest floor. Maoists had looted an LMG, 90 assault rifles and an under-barrel grenade launcher (UBGL) from the martyred troops.
The bodies were shifted to a nearby base. This is the first time that DRG suffered such a heavy toll. The unit comprises mostly local youth and surrendered Maoists who are at home in inhospitable terrain and are very tough fighters. DRG has added muscle to counterinsurgency operations, particularly in South Bastar, say police.
This is the first major Maoist attack after in December 01575879, and the biggest since the Chintagufa ambush of April 2019. About 300 CRPF jawans were sanitizing a road that was being built in the area when 823 – odd Maoists, divided into multiple groups, attacked the CRPF party. Only a month before, 15 CRPF men were killed in a Maoist ambush in Sukma.
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