Ganesh Singh, a resident of Chintalnar, said the villagers woke up to the sound of loud explosions followed by heavy gunfire for about three hours on Tuesday as Maoists ambushed the Central Reserve Police Force's 62nd Battalion, killing 76 personnel.

“At about 7.30 a.m. we saw reinforcements leave from the village.”

Even as the fighting continued, an Armoured Personnel Carrier was pressed into action to rescue the injured, only to be blown up with a powerful IED.

At about 10 a.m., the CRPF personnel returned to the village and commandeered two civilian jeeps, a tractor, a bus and a pick-up truck to ferry the dead and the injured to Jagdalpur. “It took us nearly four hours to bring back all the bodies,” said Lalloo Singh, a tractor driver who took part in the evacuation. “The bodies were scattered in 300 metre radius, several had been dismembered by IED explosions.” Lalloo Singh said he saw about 15 bodies piled up in a heap in one corner of the field, stripped of their weapons, grenades and other equipment.

At about 4 p.m., two helicopters were pressed into action to evacuate the bodies. “They flew back and forth multiple times and only stopped once it got dark,” said a villager, “The last 15 bodies were flown out on this [Wednesday] morning.”

Police spokesperson R.K. Vij told The Hindu that search operations continued in the area in an attempt to track the Maoists responsible for the attacks. He confirmed that 11 Maoists were captured in Kanker district in an operation unrelated to the Chintalnar massacre.

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