Around 20 armed Maoists escaped the police dragnet narrowly during a combing operation in Gandhamardan hill range on Wednesday evening.
Following intelligence inputs, a 16-member security force team reached a spot between Lergain and Bondadangar where Maoists had put up a camp. The camp was barricaded with wooden logs to ward off animals. When the security forces were taking position, the loose soil gave in and a stone tumbled down which alerted the ultras.
They then started firing at the security forces and when the latter retaliated, they fled after exploding bombs. Sources said the exchange of fire continued for about an hour and this was for the first time that Maoists lobbed grenades. Later, the security forces searched the area and recovered detonators, solar panels, Maoist uniforms, ammunitions, medicines, flash guns, tent materials, utensils and cooked food from the camp. It is believed that the Maoists are from Chhattisgarh. The area has been cordoned off and combing operation intensified. The security team was led by CRPF Assistant Commandant JK Upadhaya.
Sources said commander of the Maoists operating in the area, Lakhan, was present in the camp. The empty shells recovered from the spot suggested that Maoists had fired from AK-47, SLR, besides rifles.
DIG (North Region) Sanjay Kumar said additional forces have been deployed and search intensified. “As the Maoists seem to be new to the area, there is possibility that they could be holed up somewhere nearby. There are confirmed reports of injuries to some Maoists,” he said.