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Top Maoist among 8 rebels killed by forces

In a setback to Maoists, eight extremists, including a top leader and a woman, were gunned down today by security forces in two operations in West Bengal and Jharkhand.



West Midnapore (WB)/Ranchi: In a setback
to Maoists, eight extremists, including a top leader and a
woman, were gunned down today by security forces in two
operations in West Bengal and Jharkhand.

Sidhu Soren, chief of the Sidhu-Kanhu Gana Militia --
the armed wing of the Naxal-backed People Committee Against
Police Atrocities (PCPA), was among six Maoists killed during
the raid by CRPF and Special Action Force on a Maoist hideout
in dense forests in Golatore area in West Midnapore, which
also left a commando of the specialised anti-Naxal force SAF
dead.

"We have found six bodies, including of a woman cadre
and Sidhu Soren, chief of the Sidhu-Kanhu Gana Militia,"
West Midnapore Superintendent of Police Manoj Verma told PTI.
Soren, who was running the militia after the arrest of
PCPA convenor Chhatradhar Mahato, was wanted in several cases
of murder and kidnap, besides setting fire to the Lalgarh
police station, Verma said, adding that the encounter
stretched for four hours.

Police claimed that the Maoists were planning to
attack a police station and a CPI(M) party office.

Verma said that the nearby Sarenga police station and
a CPI(M) party office in the area were marked on a map found
from the encounter site. "It is certain that the Maoists had a
definite plan to attack these two places," he said.
Special commando Ashish Tiwari, who was critically
injured in the gunbattle, died while being taken to hospital.
Another top Maoist Kundan Pahan, however, managed to
escape during an encounter in Kunthi district of Jharkhand
which left two other Maoists dead.
Khunti is the operational area of Pahan who Jharkhand
police believes plotted the beheading of Special Branch
officer Francis Induwar last October.

Security forces unearthed a Naxal camp following the
fierce 12-hour encounter along the Ranchi-Khunti border and a
"large cache of weapons and explosives" were recovered.
"Two Maoists were killed in the encounter," Deputy
Inspector General of Police (Chhotanagpur Range), R K Mallick
said. The bodies were, however, taken away by the Maoists.

The operation involving personnel from specialised
state force for Naxal operation - Jaguar, CRPF and Special
Action Force had begun yesterday following intelligence inputs
about the presence of Pahan in the forests of Rabou village.
However, the encounter ended following heavy rains and
security forces suspect Pahan escaped.
Police said one SLR rifle, one INSAS rifle, one 9 mm
pistol, two .303, two 12 bore rifles, three country-made guns
and a huge quantity of ammunition were seized after the
encounter in West Midnapore.

This was the second major success for the security
forces within a fortnight. Earlier, on June 16 the joint
forces had shot dead 12 Maoists, including three women cadre,
at Ranja forest under Salboni police station in the same
district.

Soren was also the secretary of the PCPA and was in
the news earlier this year after he fell out with the
political leadership of the outfit and spurned Railway
Minister Mamata Banerjee`s offer for talks.

Two persons were later detained for interrogation
following the encounter in West Midnapore district, the SP
said.
"We are trying to find out what they were doing there
at the time," Verma said.
Asked whether they had any connection with the
encounter, he said, "That can only be said after their
interrogation is over".

PTI

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