At least 16 Maoist rebels killed in gunfight

2017-05-17 09:29


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New Delhi - At least 16 suspected Maoists have been killed in a firefight with security forces in central India, police say,  in the same region where rebels massacred two dozens soldiers last month.

The skirmish occurred near the Bijapur district in the central Chhattisgarh state, where Maoist rebels have been engaging Indian forces in jungle battles for 50 years.

Gun battle

More than 300 police and paramilitary troops had been tracking the rebels - also known as Naxals - in a joint operation since the weekend, said DM Awasthi, chief of the Chhattisgarh anti-Naxal force.

"We can confirm at least 16 Naxals have been killed in the ongoing operation," he said, without elaborating on the circumstances in which they died.

There was however no clarity on when the gun battle took place.

Another police officer said the rebels were killed in two separate gun battles and that a policeman was also killed.

"One of our jawan (troops) was killed and another two injured in the operation," said local police officer Mohit Garg.

Last month, in one of the deadliest attacks of its kind in years, rebels killed 24 police commandos as they guarded a road project in Sukhma district, making off with weapons and ammunition.

Armed conflict

The government responded with operations across the insurgent-dominated, so-called "Red Corridor" stretching through central and eastern India.

The guerrillas, who say they are fighting for the rights of tribal people and landless farmers,  have been locked in a decades-long armed conflict with the authorities.

The Maoists are believed to be present in at least 20 states but are most active in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra, occupying thousands of square kilometres of land.

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