Bijapur (Chhattisgarh) : Five CRPF personnel on a foot patrol suffered bullet wounds in a three-hour gun battle with Maoists in a forested area here in Chhattisgarh to aid the first phase of Assembly polls, authorities said.
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers were targeted around 12.20 p.m. when they were on an “area domination” operation in a dense forest near Majiguda village in Bijapur district.
The commandos, proficient in guerrilla tactics and jungle warfare, left their Tippapuram-based camp around 3 a.m., around 12 km from the site.
An Assistant Commandant, a Sub-Inspector and three Constables were injured when 80-90 Maoists opened fire on the CRPF team, its Deputy Inspector General M. Dinakaran told IANS. Earlier, the officer said two troopers were injured.
The Maoists were heading towards Pamed to disrupt the election, said the official, adding the gun battle lasted for around three hours.
“Pamed was around six km away from the site when our personnel spotted the Maoists and an encounter began. The Maoists were equipped with LMG, UBGL and mortars. Our personnel cordoned off the area and mounted a flanking attack. Five of our personnel were injured. They were evacuated and flown to Raipur by helicopter,” Dinakaran said.
A CRPF statement said many Maoists were seen getting hurt by bullets.
“It is reasonably believed that 12-15 Maoists fell injured or dead. The bodies of the Maoists could not be retrieved due to heavy firing and injury to our men. Our party withdrew to Pamed camp after firing with the Maoists stopped,” said the statement.
Based on the intensity of the gun battle, weapons used by the Maoists and the area, it is suspected that Central Regional Committee No 2 led by Sagar was involved in the Maoist attack, it said.
The attack occurred at a time when the first phase of the Chhattisgarh Assembly polls was on in Bijapur and other places in the Maoist-affected region. It was the sixth Maoist attack in 17 days in Chhattisgarh.
Minutes before the polls began, Maoists detonated an IED in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district that narrowly missed a CRPF foot patrol. The IED went off around 6.20 a.m. just 700 metres from polling booth number 183 in Nayanar village in Katekalyan area.
The Maoists had called for a boycott of elections but villagers voted in large numbers.