ANGUL: Satkosia Wildlife Sanctuary that witnessed the first ever exchange of fire between police and Maoists on Sunday is now free of ultras, claimed police.
At least 25 members of the Sambalpur-Deogarh-Sundargarh (SDS) division led by Kunu Dehuri, who sneaked into the sanctuary last week, had a face-off with the Special Operation Group (SOG) on Sunday. They fled after exchanging fire with the police for half an hour.
They were believed to have crossed over to Nayagarh district.
Police, however, continue combing operation in the sanctuary area to sanitise the forest.
Sources said Satkosia was, perhaps, chosen as a safe place by the ultras because of thick vegetation. They were earlier using Thakurgarh forest, adjacent to Satkosia, as their transit route from Kalahandi to Jharkhand. Recently, they decided to make Satkosia their new corridor. The sudden encounter by the police at Chutkei caught them off guard forcing them to flee.
The Maoists were first sighted in Satkosia three years back and they tried to enlist the support of the locals who were aggrieved with the State Government since it imposed restrictions on their stay in the sanctuary area. They held a series of meetings with the villagers to win them over but without much success.