About 30 naxalites and six police personnel, including two of sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) rank, were killed in a series of gun battles in the forest villages of the South Bastar region of Chhattisgarh since Thursday.

Police said the Communist Party of India (Maoist) received a major blow in the region as heavy casualties were inflicted on its cadres in two major attacks launched by security forces as part of “Operation Greenhunt” in Dantewada district.

Only seven of the bodies of the slain naxalites were traced and six of them brought from Kistaram to Konta for identification and post mortem, the police said.

Weapon-making unit

The Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) -- elite unit of the CRPF -- deployed two days ago in the Karigundam area raided a weapon-making unit near Singanmadugu village on September 17. One naxalite was killed in the incident and his body recovered.

Twentyfour naxalites, two officers, one sub inspector, a head constable and two constables were killed in the gun battles that continued on Friday. The Maoists took away the bodies of the slain naxalites as the CoBRA unit jawans could not advance after its officers were killed.

The slain officers were identified as Manoranjan Singh from Manipur and Rajesh Kumar Chourasia from Uttar Pradesh. The other police personnel killed were Sushil Kumar Verma, sub inspector, Lalith Kumar, head constable, Manohar Lal and Uday Kumar both constables. Their bodies were airlifted to Raipur while reinforcements reached the heavily forested Karigundam pocket, following a decision to continue “Operation Greenhunt” for at least a week.

“The number of naxalites killed by the Cobra unit was 24. It could be even more but the bodies could not be recovered because of the difficult terrain,” a police officer said. Tribal leaders from Kistaram area were brought to Konta for identification of the six naxalites killed in the encounter at Palachelma. Four of them wore olive green uniform. The weapons recovered included one SLR, a 12-bore gun, four country weapons and four grenades.

Konta sub divisional police officer Ravi Kumar Khure said Koya commandos and the Chhattisgarh armed forces were deployed in Kistaram forests on a tip-off about a Maoist camp there. The Maoists planned to ambush the police party, but it was foiled. The Koya commandos who spearheaded the operation at Palachelma did a splendid job and there were no casualties on their side.

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