Two personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were killed and at least eight security personnel were injured in a landmine blast in Sukma district of south Chhattisgarh on Sunday.

Those killed are deputy commandant of the 219 battalion, Nehal Alam, and constable Rajiv Rawat of the same battalion. Mr. Alam was recommended for police medal earlier.

The incident took place in a forest near Bodhrajpadar village, about 10 km north of the Bhejji police station. A joint force of the CRPF, the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) and the district police was engaged in an anti-naxal operation in the region, which is around 550 km from Raipur, over the last few days. About 400 personnel were part of the operation, Superintendent of Police (SP) of Sukma, Abhishek Shandilya, told The Hindu.

Two police personnel are among those injured.

The operation was led by senior officers of the deputy commandant rank, said Inspector-General (IG) of CRPF H.S. Siddhu. Mr. Alam was a particularly brave officer, said Mr. Sidhu. Another officer of the CRPF, deputy commandant Ratneswar, was also injured in the blast. The nature of the explosives is yet to be ascertained, Mr. Shandilya said.

Three naxals killed

In a separate incident, the Bijapur district police said three suspected naxalites, including a woman, were killed in an encounter on Thursday in a forest near Badekakler village, close to the Maharashtra border. They were identified as Naveen Mandawi alias Chaitu (38), Mashe Telam (27) and Sannu Udde (23). Ms. Telam was the wife of Naveen Mandawi.

A press release from the Bijapur police said a joint force of the Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra police was combing the area on Thursday evening. The police team came under fire and it retaliated. The cadres were killed in an exchange of fire.

While Mandawi was attached to platoon number two of the People Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA), his wife was a member of the supply wing of the National Park Area Committee. Udde was attached to a local operations squad. One muzzle-loading Bharmar rifle, a tiffin bomb, some naxalite literature and medicines were recovered from the spot, the release said.