Raipur: Five security personnel were killed as over 100 Maoists ambushed a patrol in Chhattisgarh`s restive Bastar region Sunday, leading to a gunfight, police said.
"Maoists ambushed a police patrolling party drawn from the Border Security Force (BSF), district force (DF) and special police officers (SPOs) in a thickly-forested area," Inspector General of Police (Bastar range) T.J. Longkumer told IANS over phone from Jagdalpur, headquarters of Bastar region.
He said the gun battle took place in Bhuski village in Kanker district, 250 km from capital Raipur, when Maoists ambushed the troopers. "It was a major ambush but our jawans fought bravely and fiercely...Maoists were in large numbers and estimated to be over 100," Longkumer said.
Chhattisgarh Director General of Police Vishwa Ranjan said that those killed were three BSF men, including a head constable and two constables, one belonging to the DF and an SPO.
He added that a chopper was sent to the attack site for rescue operations and evacuating an injured trooper. Police claimed that some Maoists were also killed in the gunfight but none of their bodies were recovered.
The attack took place just a few hours before state Forest Minister Vikram Usendi was scheduled to visit the area. The minister, who belongs to Kanker district, called off his trip after the attack.
All the five dead bodies were brought to Raipur in the evening. The bodies will be sent to their next of kin after Monday after the autopsies.
Condemning the incident, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh said: "The government should not hold peace talks with Maoists until they abjure violence."
In a separate incident in Bijapur district, police and Maoists fought a brief gun battle Sunday in which two senior Maoist cadres were apprehended by a joint team of DF and SPOs in a hilly area, some 450 km south of here.
Bijapur Superintendent of Police RN Das said that police recovered explosives and Maoist documents from the ultras who were estimated to number 30-35.
Chhattisgarh has been the epicentre of Maoist violence in recent years. The Bastar region, spread across an about 40,000 sq km area and comprising Dantewada, Bijapur, Narayanpur, Bastar and Kanker districts, is considered the nerve centre of Maoist militants in India.
Officials at the police headquarters here said that the state has witnessed 1,948 Maoist attacks in the past three years. A total of 418 civilians and 435 policemen, including 75 SPOs, have been killed in Maoist violence.