Seven Maoists and an assistant commandant of CRPF died and five jawans are missing after the rebels and security forces exchanged fire near Palachelma village in Dantewara district of Chhattisgarh on Friday morning.

Massive contingents of security forces including the Cobra battalions of the CRPF have taken up combing operations to locate the missing CRPF personnel.

Security forces took up a combing operation in what is being described as a 'core area' south of Gollapalli village, on the borders of Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh for the last two days. The forces managed to raid an arms production unit on Thursday and were returning to their base camp in Konta when the Maoists ambushed them on Friday morning.

The fierce gun battle that lasted for more than two hours, seven Maoists and the CRPF assistant commandant Manoranjan Singh were killed.

Several weapons and hand grenades were recovered from the slain Maoists, sources from the police headquarters in Raipur said.

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