Sukma: In a deadly assault, twenty-five CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) jawans were killed by Naxals in an encounter in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district on Monday.
The encounter between 74th battalion of the force and Naxals occurred around 12:25 pm in Kalapathar area of south Bastar region.
The CRPF jawans were part of the road opening party when they were attacked by Naxals.
Weapons of jawans are also reported to have been looted.
The company commander, Raghubir Singh, an inspector rank officer, was among those killed.
"As per the latest report, we have lost 25 men. We are still to account for all the personnel and a search is on. About 7-8 boys are still missing. The last word on the encounter will come once the entire area has been searched and all troops contacted," a senior CRPF officer said, adding the paramilitary patrol was about 99 personnel-strong, as per PTI.
Reacting to the incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "Attack on CRPF personnel in Chhattisgarh is cowardly and deplorable. We are proud of the valour of our CRPF personnel. The sacrifice of the martyrs will not go in vain."
On the other hand, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted, "Extremely pained to know about the killing of CRPF personnel in Sukma. My tributes to the martyrs and condolences to their families."
On hearing the news Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh cut short his New Delhi visit and rushed to Raipur.
He held an emergency meeting at the CM's official residence here with senior administrative and police officials in attendance.
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The CM took details of the incident and also took stock of the situation in the wake of the attack.
Singh said that the attack showed Naxals' cowardice.
The incident comes at a time when the country's largest paramilitary force is without a full-time chief after K Durga Prasad retired on February 28.
The attack comes on the heels of 12 CRPF personnel being killed in Sukma last month.
At that time, the ambush had taken place in a forested patch near Kottacheru village under Bhejji police station, around 500 km from the state capital, at 9.15 am when 112 personnel of the CRPF`s 219th battalion were on a road opening duty.
Making a statement in the Lok Sabha then, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said that Left wing extremists were restless because of the attacks carried out against them by security forces and had called the attack on the CRPF a result of that frustration.
He had added that 135 extremists had been killed, 700 arrested and 1,198 had surrendered in last year. He had also said that there was a 15 percent drop in Left wing extremist incidents in Chhattisgarh in 2016.
(With Agency inputs)