Chhattisgarh: 17 Soldiers Missing, Many Feared Dead 24 Hours After Encounter With Naxals

Eleven policemen were injured in a fierce gun-battle with Naxals in forests of Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Sukma district on Saturday, the police said.

Raipur| After a major encounter in Bastar’s Sukma between Naxals and state forces, 17 soldiers are missing, and around as many have been injured.

Around 12 DRG and 5 STF men are missing after the security personnel came under heavy fire in Chintagufa in Sukma on Saturday afternoon. A party of around 550 men of DRG, STF and CoBRA were sent on Sunday morning to retrieve them, Chhattisgarh DGP said. Of the 17, locations of four were traced last night.

On Saturday afternoon, a joint team of DRG, STF, and CoBRA from Chintagufa, Burkapal and Timelwada were sent on an operation to Elmagunda, where information of Naxals formations was received. The teams reached Elmagunda and were returning when they were ambushed near Korajguda hills at around 02:30 pm. Fifteen DRG jawans were injured in the firing.

According to DGP Durgesh Awasthi, the security personnel had received information that PLGA 1 and Company 2 were gathering at Elmagunda. “It was the biggest yet congregation of the Maoists in the area from Bijapur and Sukma. Following the information our men went to fight them and were ambushed,” he said.

“Out of the 17 people, four have been traced as they made phone calls, one to his wife and three to others late last night. We had their locations at night, but now we can’t say. For the other 13, we have no idea where they are or how many have been martyred” Awasthi said.

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More than 250 men from PLGA 1 controlled by the senior Maoist leader Hidma and Company 2 ambushed the men while they were returning at around 02.30 pm on Saturday, sources said. “The exchange of fire went on for over five hours and our men fought valiantly. We have sent a new team of around 550 men from Burkapal and Chintagufa. They have been ordered to neutralize any Naxal presence and retrieve our men as fast as possible. We hope that some of our men are safe,” Awasthi said.

15 injured DRG personnel were airlifted to Raipur late on Saturday night. Out of them, four are critical as they have suffered bullet injuries to chest and abdomen, hospital sources said. “One of the men has a bullet injury to his stomach and he will be operated upon on Sunday afternoon. Three have bullet injuries to their chest and are under observation,” a statement from the hospital in Raipur said.

If the death is officially confirmed, Saturday’s encounter in Bastar will be the deadliest for the forces after the April 2017 Burkapal encounter in which 25 CRPF personnel lost their lives. The area where the encounter happened is quite close to the encounter site of 2017.

(Inputs from Indian express)

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