20 Naxalites killed,several injured in encounter in Orissa

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Bhubaneswar, Feb 17 (UNI) As many as 20 Naxalites and three police personnel including one Assistant Commandant of Special Operation Group(SOG) were killed during a fierce encounter and intensive combing operation in the Gasama forest bordering Kandhmal district today.

Orissa Home Secretary T K Mishra said the casualty from the Naxalites side would likely to rise as sources said several naxalites were injured in the encounter which continued for the second day today.

The Orissa government had launched an intensive combing operation by encircling the fleeing ultras at various places bordering Kandhmal, Ganjam, Gajapati and Nayagarh districts.

A strong contingent of security personnel comprising Greyhound, Special Operation Group,CRPF and OSAP jawans under the direct supervision of Additional Director General of Police (Operation) Manmohan Praharaj had almost zeroed in on the four to five hide-outs of the fleeing ultras.

The intensive combing operation, the Home Secretary said, will continue till ''we come out victorious''. He was, however, very much optimistic that the operation would be completed very soon.

The police today recovered the bodies of Assistant Commandant Pramod Satpathy,Personal Security to Berhampur Superintendent of Police Sushant Gauda and OSAP 7th Battalion jawan Sanjaya Kumar Panda from the Gasama forest where a fierce encounter was still continuing.

The bodies were sent for post mortem and later handed over to their relatives for cremation.With the three more casualties,the toll in the Naxalite attack had gone up to 18.The armed Naxalites during their hours long operation in Nayagarh on Friday night hag gunned down 14 police personnel and one civilian.

Police sources said in the wake of stiff resistance,the Naxalites have started dispersing from Gasama forest and moving to other areas in the dense forest.The villagers have sighted them near the Ranikiari forest and Pokasinga village,located almost 20 kms away from the Gasama forest.

The Home Secretary said the naxalites were virtually trapped inside the forest with all the escape routes being sealed by the police.The ultras had now left with two options either to be killed or captured.

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