East Champaran (Bihar), Dec 20: At least seven people, including a CRPF Assitant Commandant and two jawans, were killed and nine seriously injured in a fierce encounter with armed Maoist guerillas at the remote Kadma village in this Maoist-dominated border district of north Bihar last night.
''Besides CRPF Assistant Commandant Vinay Kumar Kapil and two of his bodyguards, three Maoist guerillas and a villager were killed in the gun battle which continued for more than six hours from 1900 hours,'' Inspector General of Bihar Police(Operations) S K Bharadwaj told the sources today confirming the toll. Among the injured were another CRPF jawan, six extremists and two villagers, including a 12-year-girl, who was caught in the crossfire.
While the injured security personnel and villagers had been admitted to the district hospital with multiple wounds, the insurgents fled with the bodies of the three deceased comrades and the injured, Mr Bharadwaj informed.
Mr Kapil gave an account of the fiercest ever encounter in Bihar in which more than 500 rounds were fired by the security personnel comprising the CRPF, SAP and the Bihar Armed Police. He said acting on a tip off that a group of about 75 Maoist guerillas had assembled at the remote village bordering Nepal, about 70 km from the district headquarters, for a secret meeting, a police team reached the spot and asked them to surrender.
But the ultras started firing indiscriminately at the police, who retaliated and a fierce encounter ensued which continued till 0330 hours today.
''It is still not known how many rounds were fired by the heavily armed Maoists,'' Mr Bharadwaj said. As the state police force came under intense guerilla fire from behind a secured position, the help of CRPF and SAP was sought by SP Sunil Kumar Jha, who rushed to the spot along with Mr Bharadwaj and several other senior officials.
When the CRPF contingent, led by the Assistant Commandant, reached the spot they too came under heavy fire in which Mr Kumar and two of his bodyguards were killed on the spot. In retaliation three Maoists were also gunned down and six injured, the IG said.
A large number of live and empty cartridges were also recovered from the spot after the extremists had fled the scene under the cover of darkness.
A massive combing operation had been launched to nab them and all exit points of the northern most district of the state, bordering Nepal, had been sealed. However, no one had been arrested so far and it was apprehended that the Maoists might have crossed the international border before dawn.
Incidentally, this was the longest and the most fierce encounter between the Maoist guerillas and the security forces in Bihar.