Bhubaneswar: Marking a huge success against the extremists, the Odisha Police on Saturday gunned down three Naxal leaders in an anti-Maoist operation in Malkangiri district here at around 9:30 am, including the mastermind of the Maoists' massacre in Chhattisgarh on May 25, 2013.
According to media reports, one Naxal leader who was gunned down today has been identified as Sonadhar - a Maoist leader from the neighbouring state of Chhattisgarh. He was killed today along with two of his body guards.
Sonadhar was the brain behind the killing of nearly 30 senior Congress leaders, including former Union Minister VC Shukla in 2013.
On a tip-off, a team of Special Operation Group (SOG) and District Voluntary Force (DVF) launched an operation in Bhejaguda forest of Mathili area where they came face to face with a group of ultras, sparking a gunbattle, Malkangiri Superintendent of Police Mitrabhanu Mohapatra said.
Three Maoist rebels--Sonadhar, the Darbha (Chhattisgarh) Maoist division area committee Secretary, and his two body guards--were killed in the encounter while several others fled, he said.
In the 2013 incident in Chhattisgarh' Darba Ghati before the state assembly polls had wiped out almost the entire Congress leadership in the state. Karma, a former Home Minister of Chhattisgarh, was the spearhead of Salwa Judum, an anti-Naxal operation. They were among 25 people killed in the Maoist ambush.
Sonadhar, who held an important position in Maoist hierarchy, was allegedly involved in many crimes in Mathili area in Odisha and adjoining Darabha region in Chhattisgarh, police said.
A pistol, some sharp weapons, walkie talkie sets, Maoist uniforms and several other Naxal materials including literature were recovered from the site of today's encounter.
Combing operations and patrolling have been intensified in the area after the incident, they said.