Maoists likely used looted weapons in Chhattisgarh attack: Report
Raipur, Apr 04: A group of around 400 Maoists, armed with light machine guns (LMGs), had ambushed security forces deployed for a special operation in Chhattisgarh, killing at least 22 personnel and injuring 30 others, besides decamping with over a dozen sophisticated arms, officials said today.
The contingent of about 1,500 troops was drawn from CRPF's specialised jungle warfare unit CoBRA, its regular battalions, a unit of its Bastariya battalion, the Chhattisgarh Police affiliated District Reserve Guard (DRG) and others. They had launched a search and destroy operation along the border of Bijapur-Sukma district after they got inputs of Maoists presence in the area.
A siege was laid at the crack of the dawn on Saturday following intelligence inputs that Maoists were undertaking their Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC) campaign in the Jagargunda-Jongaguda-Tarrem axis, the officials said, adding the total strength of security personnel for the operation was 790 and the rest were taken as auxiliary and support elements for the long-haul operation.
At least 400 Maoists, suspected to be led by the most-wanted Maoist commander and leader of the People's Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) battalion no 1-- Hidma-- and his associate Sujatha, ambushed the forces in an area that is a strong-hold of the Maoists due to the difficult terrain, large tracts of forests and a smaller number of security forces camps, an official said.
Out of the total 22 fatalities, the CRPF lost eight men including seven CoBRA commandos while one soldier was from the Bastariya battalion and the rest from DRG and Special Task Force. A CRPF Inspector is still missing, they said.
"The Maoists drew the forces into an ambush with heavy gunfire and encircled the security personnel from three sides. A heavy gun-battle ensued in the jungles which are devoid of any foliage at present," a senior official said.
Bullets rained from light machine guns and the Maoists also used low-intensity improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to mount the attack that continued for several hours.
Helicopters, which were requisitioned to evacuate the injured personnel, could make the first landing only after 5 PM after the gunfire had ended.
The security personnel took guard against large trees and kept firing till they ran out of ammunition, he added.
At one location, he added, seven bodies of the troops were recovered and the tree trunks bore bullet shots, indicating that a fierce gun battle took place in the area.
About two dozen sophisticated assault weapons of the killed personnel are also stated to have been looted by the Maoists even as security officials said the search of the area is still on and details are being collected from the ground.
He said that the Maoists carried their dead, estimated to be about 10-12, on tractor trolleys.
Another officer posted in Chhattisgarh said the operation was being monitored by two Inspector General (IG) rank officers of the state police and the Central Reserve Police Force from Jagdalpur in Bastar.
Officials said while maximum security forces personnel were killed due to bullet shots, one is suspected to have fainted and later died due to dehydration and other issues.
"The security forces personnel, especially CoBRA commandos, fought very bravely and ensured that the Maoists could not prolong the ambush despite being at an advantage," the officer said.