RAIPUR: Security forces have gunned down 15 Maoists - all male cadres - in an hour-long encounter and seized 16 weapons in Chhattisgarh's strife-torn Sukma district, around 500 km south of Raipur, on Monday morning.
Two cadres, including a woman, injured in the gunfight were taken into custody after the fierce encounter ended at a place between Golapalli and Konta at Nulkatung forested terrain, about 110 km from the district headquarters.
"We had information about the Maoist presence in the region. But, this operation was not based on any specific intelligence input. It was a sheer chance that our forces spotted a Maoist camp along their route of operation and targeted the cadres. In the gun-battle, our men killed 15 Maoists on the spot. All bodies were recovered," Superintendent of Police, Sukma, Abhishek Meena told TNIE.
The slain Maoists belonged to three separate militia groups based in the region.
In Sukma, the district police and the CRPF are jointly carrying out an anti-Maoist operation. "But it was our men from the district police force, comprising district reserve guards (DRG) along with the Special Task Force, who were involved in the encounter against the Maoists," Meena added.
Reinforcements were rushed to the area and the search operation further intensified. There was no report of any casualty among the security personnel who safely returned to their base camp at Konta.
In another incident, security personnel defused four Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) planted by the Red brigade at Errabore.
The Maoists had recently observed "Martyrs' Week" from July 28 to August 3 in memory of their comrades who were killed in encounters. The security forces have already stepped up pressure with the launch of 'Operation Monsoon' across the Bastar region.
On August 2, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh had categorically asserted that the Maoists now have no option. "Either they should surrender and join the mainstream, or our forces are ready and the Naxals will no longer be spared."
Eighty-six Maoists have been killed in 111 encounters, so far, this year in Chhattisgarh. On July 19, eight Maoists, including six women fighters, were eliminated by security forces in Dantewada. Sukma is among the seven worst Maoists-affected districts in the conflict zone of Bastar in south Chhattisgarh.