13 personnel feared killed in Chhattisgarh

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Bijapur, Chhattisgarh, Nov 2 (UNI) At least 13 security personnel were feared killed after naxals triggered a blast and then opened fire on a patrol party near Tongada village -- bordering Andhra Pradesh -- in this Maoism-affected district of Bastar division, police said.

Twenty-one personnel were returning from Terla village when the rebels unleashed the attack.

Inspector-General of Police (Anti-Naxal Operations) Girdhari Nayak told UNI over telephone that initially 18 personnel went missing after the ambush. However, five returned.

Meanwhile, IG (Bastar Range) R K Vij said that additional forces were rushed to the spot for rescue and to undertake combing operations.

''A clear picture about casualties would emerge only after the security forces take control of the area,'' he added.

Bijapur is one of the extremism-affected districts of Bastar where Communist Party of India (Maoist) cadres are active. The ultras stepped up violence since June 2005 after local tribals launched 'Salwa Judum', a movement to isolate insurgents and generate awareness among the masses against naxal violence.

According to rough estimates, more than 700 people -- including scores of personnel -- lost their lives over the past two years after rebels stepped up violence. More than 50,000 people deserted their villages and sought refuge in camps set up by the state government in Dantewada district.

UNI

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