Commandos kill 10 Maoists in Chhattisgarh

Raipur, April 16 (IANS) At least 10 Maoists were killed early Tuesday when commandos from Andhra Pradesh stormed a forested area in Chhattisgarh, triggering a fierce firefight that lasted about 150 minutes.

Police officials called the raid in Bastar region one of the biggest success against the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), which has a strong presence in Chhattisgarh.

The bodies of the Maoists have been taken to Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh, Inspector General of Police (Bastar) Himanshu Gupta told IANS.

Acting on intelligence inputs, commandos from Andhra Pradesh’s anti-Maoist Grey Hound force attacked the hideout in an area falling under the Pamed police station.

Police say more than 100 Maoist guerrillas were holed up when the rebels came under intense fire.

At least 10 insurgents — some believed to be commando ranked forces of the CPI-Maoist — were killed, Director General of Police Ramniwas told reporters.

“Dozens of Maoists were put under heavy gunfire for hours. The entire hideout has been dismantled. I suspect the death toll could rise heavily. It’s a big success,” Ramniwas added.

A huge cache of arms and ammunition was seized from the hideout, located close to the Andhra Pradesh border and about 270 km south of Jagdalpur town in Chhattisgarh.

These included a rocket launcher, four Self Loading Rifles, two Insas rifles, some mobile sets, Maoist literature and Maoist uniforms.

“It was one of the fiercest attacks on Maoists in recent years,” a senior official at the Chhattisgarh police headquarters said.

“The ultras were caught by surprise by the raid which went on for roughly 150 minutes,” he added.

According to the officer, the Maoists tried to escape but main exit points of the hideout were blocked.

“Police ensured that not a single rebel escaped (without being hit),” he said.

The mineral rich Bastar region is spread out in about 40,000 sq km area and is made up of seven districts.

Some of the key Maoist leaders active in Chhattisgarh hail from Andhra Pradesh, where the once powerful Maoist movement has been virtually crushed.

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