The ultras were hiding in small groups in forests bordering Nayagarh, Ganjam and Phulbani district. Ganjam Superintendent of Police S Debadutta Singh claimed that the security personnel had seized a truck load of arms looted by naxals from Nayagarh Armoury on the night of February 15 last. The seized arms included 237 three-zero-three rifles, 16 Insas rifles, 2 SLR, 6 Stengun, 5 Carbine, 1 Sub Machine Gun, 16 Pistols, 4 country made guns, 16 boxes live cartridges, two thousand round empty cartridges, 19 land mines, 6 grenade and 3 swords.
The joint operation, which launched for the second time in Gasama hills found the looted arms and ammunition buried inside the trench and scattered on the hills, which was supposedly used as a base camp for the ultras before the planned attack at Nayagarh.
On February 18 also, the Greyhound force, CRPF and Special Operation Group (SOG), engaged in the combing operation, had seized a huge dump of arms and ammunition left behind by the rebels on the Gasama hill.
Mr Singh said CRPF Commandant N J Bijoy, SOG Assistant Commandant Ekanta Priya Naik and State Bomb Disposal Squad Subedar Lochan Prasad led the operation in which nearly four platoons of forces joined.
Two sniffer dogs- Uri and Turbo -also pressed into service to track down the Naxalites. The seized arms and ammunition brought to Bhanjanagar in Ganjam district amidst intense security, police said.
The security forces today also continued their search operation to recover the rest looted arms as they believed that the Naxalites, in the wake of mounting attack, had formed small groups to flee the Gasama forest, leaving behind the looted arms.
The Greyhound, CRPF and SOG Jawans have also formed different groups and mounted an extensive search operation in the forest areas bordering Ganjam and Kandhmal while sustained anti-Naxal operation was going on in Nayagarh, Gajapati, Ganjam, Rayagada and Kandhmal districts for the seventh day today.
Official sources claimed that with the yesterday's recovery, over 70 per cent of the ammunition and 60 per cent of the weapon, looted by the Naxals from the Nayagarh District Armoury and Police Training School, had been recovered by the security forces. Finding the escape routes difficult to locate inside the forest, the security forces have sought the assistance of the forest personnel, who were much familiar to the various routes in the forest terrain to chase the fleeing naxalites.
The government described the present operation against the ultras as one of the biggest search operation in the country and was optimistic that the operation would be successful.
The security personnel still believed that a major group of naxals involved in the Nayagarh mayhem, in which 15 police personnel and a civilian were killed, were still hiding in the forests close to the Gasama hill and decided to focus its combing operation around it.
Meanwhile, report reaching here today, said the police had detained several people suspecting their movement at various places and started interrogating them to ascertain their link with the Nayagarh attack.
While 18 people were detained from a Koraput-bound train at Bolangir yesterday, three were taken from Firingia in Kandhmal district and as many from Puri while one from Kendrapada.
The security personnel had already arrested two naxalites, one of them a female and recovered from them a 9 mm pistol during the search operation. The two rebels were identified as Reena alias Manjulata Muduli and Pratap Kambata.
Reena was inducted to the Naxal cadre six years ago and an active member of the Sambalpur-Deogarh committee. She was also involved in as many as ten murders and looting of Deogarh Armoury, police said.