Nine suspected cadres of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) were killed on Tuesday in an armed encounter with the F company of the 111th battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district.

“The encounter took place this morning between 8.30 and 9.30 a.m. at Kunder, about 6 km from the CRPF camp at Jagargunda,” said Mohammed Jamal Khan, Acting Commandant of the 111th battalion CRPF. The CRPF did not sustain any losses or injuries.

Mr. Khan said that 111 men had set out on an area domination exercise, headed by company-in-charge Salim Kumar, when the party came under fire from a raised hillock.

Sources in the CRPF said that the soldiers were sent out on the basis of specific information. “Ration supplies for the Salva Judum camp in Jagargunda have been lying in Dornapal for sometime now. We knew Maoists were in the area and would try to attack the supply convoys,” said an officer involved in the operation.

It is believed that the soldiers were attacked by a Maoist military company of about 100 fighters. “On receiving fire, the soldiers split into three sections. While one section gave covering fire, the other two flanked the Maoists on the hilltop,” said the source.

The encounter lasted for about an hour, after which the Maoist cadres withdrew, leaving behind nine bodies of men aged between 20 and 22 years. All corpses were dressed in black uniform or olive green combat fatigues.

Senior CRPF officers described today’s incident as a “major victory”, after more than 100 CRPF soldiers were killed in two major Maoist attacks in Chhattisgarh in April and June this year.

In a separate incident, two soldiers of the 168 battalion of the CRPF were killed on the Basaguda-Avallpali road in Bijapur district after suspected Maoists triggered an Improvised Explosive Device under their vehicle.