Nagpur: At least four policemen were killed when around 200 Maoists attacked two police teams in the thick forests of Maharashtra`s Gadchiroli district, police said. At least a dozen rebels are suspected to have been killed in the gunfights.
The scene of the bloody jungle warfare was in Nargonda and Tadgaon areas, officials said.
Though the rebel toll has been put at a dozen, the security forces have managed to recover bodies of only two Maoists, including a woman, officials of the Anti-Naxal Operations (ANO) said.
The ANO control room said that at least 12 Maoists, who were seriously hurt in the police firing, are suspected to have been killed. Police have also recovered ammunition pouches of AK-47 assault rifles.
In Tadgaon, one police constable and two special police officers were killed and two policemen seriously injured.
In the second gunfight in Nargonda, a commando of the elite C-60 squad of the ANO fell to Maoist bullets.
State Home Minister R.R. Patil, who rushed to the district Thursday afternoon, was briefed on the incidents by ANO chief Sunil Ramanand.
"A major anti-Naxal operation is underway. They attacked the security forces who retaliated. There are two confirmed Moaist deaths and at least eight more are injured," Patil told reporters.
Officials said the double attacks appeared to be well-planned by the Maoists in Nargonda and Tadgaon with more than 100 rebels involved at each location, ANO officials said.
"It could be a deliberate tactic to divide and confuse the security forces with an intention to inflict higher casualties on the law enforcers," said an official.
On its part, the ANO responded with at least 50 officers and policemen battling the Maoists at each location.
The ANO personnel who were killed are Chinna Venta, Munshi Pungati, Sudhakar Mattami and Surendra Kotare, an official said.
Sadhu Palli and Shankar Govase were seriously injured and have been admitted to Gadchiroli hospital.
The district authorities have summoned additional forces from the neighbouring Chandrapur district to assist in the operations.
A helicopter was also used to pinpoint the rebel locations and later move the bodies of the security personnel.