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13 jawans killed in Sukma gun-battle, 2 officers among dead

At least 13 jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) including an assistant commandant and a deputy commandant were killed and 20 others injured in a massive explosion triggered by the Maoists followed by a fierce gun-battle at Chintagufa in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district on Monday.

The attack came barely 48 hours after Chief Minister Raman Singh claimed that his state will be free from Maoists soon.

Official sources said the incident took place at around 10.30 am when the jawans were carrying out a search operation deep inside the forests, when the Maoists triggered an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and fired indiscriminately at them. The firing continued for more than five hours and the rebels also fired at an Indian Air Force helicopter that was evacuating wounded personnel.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, while condemning the attack, said: “It is a dastardly act of violence. I am deeply saddened and disturbed to know of 13 CRPF men being killed by the Naxals during an ongoing encounter in Chhattisgarh.”

In the evening, Maoists issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack. The statement carried name of Gudsa Usandi-2. The security forces claimed that Gudsa was already under arrest and they were trying to gather information about his identity.

Since Saturday, two separate teams of nearly 300 jawans were engaged in massive combing operations inside the forest. The joint team comprising the CRPF and district police were being supervised by CRPF IG H S Sidhu and additional director general (anti-Maoist operation) Rajinder Kumar Vij. On Monday, the jawans got intelligence inputs and began their operations at Chintagufa on foot, while the vehicles were following behind, providing a cover to them. 

The first batch passed a small ‘natural culvert’, while the second was about to move further when they were attacked. The security forces gave a befitting reply but failed to do much as the Maoists reportedly used “human shield”. Now, the challenge for the forces is to ensure the safety of the jawans and injured troopers inside the hilly terrain as evacuating them during night hours would be extremely risky.
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