RAIPUR- In a major attack today, Naxals ambushed a joint team of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and state police in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district, killing at least 20 Indian security personnel and injuring several others.
Dipanshu Kabra, DIG, State Intelligence Bureau told Indian media that 20 soldiers have been killed in the attack while three have been injured. A civilian was also reported to have been killed in the attack.
"Officials on the spot say some Naxals may also have been killed in firing," Kabra said. "It was an ambush. There are reports that around 150 Naxals present there.”
CRPF sources had earlier said that 15 of their personnel and five personnel of the state police may have been killed in the ambush. An assistant commandant rank officer of CRPF is believed to be among those feared killed. The attack took place in a dense forest at Tahakwada between Tongapal and Jeeram Ghati in Sukma district.
Chhattisgarh Police ADG (Intelligence) Mukesh Gupta informed that a joint team of CRPF and state police was attacked by a large group of Naxalites at the 'Jeeram Nullah' under the Tongapal Police Station area of the district. A squad of 44 personnel, including 30 CRPF and 14 state police, were out for an operation when Naxals triggered landmine blasts and firing leading to the killings.
"We are getting reports of blasts and firing. For the time being the firing has stopped. Reinforcements have been sent," RK Vij, ADG (Naxal operations), said. "Exact situation will be assessed once we reach the spot of encounter," he said further, adding, "Exact location of the ambush is between Tongapal and Jeeram; the spot is 5 kilometres from Tongapal."
Following the attack, an encounter broke out between the CRPF-police personnel and the Maoists. Reinforcements were rushed to the spot, where fierce firing was reported between the two sides. The area is reported to be 'heavily mined'. Chhattisgarh Home Minister Ramsewak Paikra confirmed the attack, but did not specify the death toll. Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said they are "getting information, (but) cannot say anything right now". State Chief Minister Raman Singh has called an emergency meeting of the Chief Secretary, ACS Home, DGP and other high ranking officers to assess the situation. Police had earlier said that the firefight started at around 10:30 am, adding the death toll is expected to rise. The incident took place in the same area where Naxalites had killed 76 police personnel in April 2010.