After Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Director General K. Vijay Kumar on Thursday apologised for the deaths of innocent civilians, if any, in the recent encounter with Maoists in Chhattisgarh.

“It is a concern and regret if they were innocent civilians. This information [that some of them were Maoists] was based on police records shared with us...we have said that seven of those killed were Naxalites,” Mr. Kumar told journalists here.

It is alleged that in the encounter between Maoists and the CRPF-Chhattisgarh police in Bijapur district last month, 20 people were killed which included many innocent villagers.

The Chhattisgarh government has already ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident.

Refusing to further “speculate” on the controversy, Mr. Kumar said an inquiry has been ordered and would not like to talk more about the identities of those killed. The CRPF is also conducting an internal inquiry into the incident.

The CRPF has maintained that its troops returned fire after Maoists ambushed them in the middle of night.

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