At least 22 security personnel were killed and around 31 injured in a shoot-out with Naxals in Sukma district of Bijapur, Chhattisgarh, on Saturday, 3 April, said SP Bijapur, Kamalochan Kashyap to ANI.
So far, 17 bodies have been recovered, reported PTI. Twenty-three soldiers were admitted to a Bijapur hospital, and seven were taken to a Raipur hospital. Out of the 31 injured personnel, 16 were from the CRPF.
“Seven of the injured security personnel who were shifted to Raipur are out of danger. As many as 21 personnel are missing and our rescue team is looking for them. I received a call from Union Home Minister Amit Shah. He has sent the CRPF DG to the state. I’ll return to Chhattisgarh in the evening,” said Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel told ANI.
He added, “The shoot-out between Naxals and security personnel went on for nearly four hours. Naxals have suffered heavy losses as well. The martyrdom of our security personnel will not go in vain.”
Central Reserve Police Force Director General Kuldiep Singh arrived in Chhattisgarh on Sunday to take stock of the situation.
ANI reported that an emergency meeting of DGP DM Awasthi, Special DG (anti-Naxal operations) Ashoke Juneja and other officers was held in Raipur soon after the incident.
Deputy Inspector General of Police (Naxal operations) OP Pal told news agency ANI that the body of a Naxal woman was also found at the encounter site.
Bastar IG P Sundarraj told ANI that at least nine more Naxals had been killed and around 15 were injured in the encounter. “We will need more time to confirm this. As per our estimates, there were 250 Naxals there,” he said.
When Did the Gun-Battle Start?
According to an NDTV report, the security personnel were from the Central Reserve Police Force's elite Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) unit, the District Reserve Guard (DRG), and the Special Task Force (STF). The units were conducting an anti-Maoist operation when the gun battle sarted in the district's Tarrem area.
This came days after five police personnel were killed and 14 injured after Maoists targeted a bus carrying 27 DRG (District Reserve Guard) troops in Chhattisgarh's Narayanpur district.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke with Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and Singh on Sunday to assess the situation, reported ANI.
In a tweet, Shah offered his condolences to the deceased soldiers, saying, “I bow to sacrifices of our brave security personnel martyred while fighting Maoists in Chhattisgarh. Nation will never forget their valour. My condolences are with their families. We will continue our fight against these enemies of peace and progress”.
While speaking from Sualkuchi in Assam, Shah said that loss of lives of security men will not be tolerated and a befitting reply will be given at an appropriate time, PTI reported.
Amit Shah cut short his campaign trip and returned to Delhi. He said that total casualties from the attack are yet to be ascertained. However, search operations were on.
Later, Amit Shah held a high-level security meeting with Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, Intelligence Bureau Director Arvind Kumar and senior officials of the home ministry and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to review the situation.
Sonia Gandhi also paid homage to the killed security personnel and said in a statement, “The entire country bows before the martyrdom of 22 jawans in the gruesome Naxal attack in Bijapur, Chhattisgarh. I pay homage to these jawans who have given their lives, and heartfelt condolences to their families. The nation owes an enormous debt of gratitude to them.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also offered his condolences to the soldiers saying their sacrifices will never be forgotten.
(With inputs from ANI, PTI and NDTV)