Two Maoists, including a woman, were killed in an alleged encounter with the police inside the Nilambur forests on Thursday.
Claiming it as a major achievement, the police said that the encounter took place around 12 p.m. about 15 km inside the jungle from the Padukka forest station in the Karulai range of the Nilambur South division.
Police sources identified the dead as Koppam Devarajan, CPI (Maoist) central committee member, and Ajita, aka Kaveri. There were rumours about the death of a third person.
Inspector General of Police (Thrissur range) M.R. Ajit Kumar said only two were killed. Mr. Kumar visited Padukka and neighbouring areas in the evening.
The encounter was the result of a well-prepared operation carried out by the anti-Naxal squad of the police comprising separate teams of the Thunderbolt Commando and the local police led by Dy.SP Solomon.
The police team began their hunt around 3 a.m. from Kadannakkappu in the New Amarambalam forest reserve following a tip-off that the Maoists were camping about 4 km inside the jungle.
Sources said that the squad sighted an 11-member Maoist group around 12 p.m. On seeing the police, the group dispersed and tried to escape by shooting at them. Two were killed in the retaliatory police firing. The details of the shoot-out would be released on Friday.
However, there were rumours that one more Maoist was killed and two others were injured. The police refused to confirm whether any of their members were injured in the shoot-out.
The squad continued their search for the other Maoists through Thursday evening and alerted forest officials, Adivasis and local people to maintain vigil.
The police said the body of the slain Maoists would be moved out of the forest on Friday after an inquest by Sub-Collector Jaffer Malik. The police said top officers of the force would visit the spot on Friday.
District Superintendent of Police Debesh Kumar Behara supervised the operation by camping at Padukka. Apart from Mr. Behara, North divisional forest officer (DFO) R. Adaralasan, South DFO K. Saji, several Dy.SPs and forest ranger officers are camping at Padukka.
The police had enhanced their alert and intelligence operations since the exchange of fire with a group of Maoists at Mundakkadavu Adivasi Colony nearly two months ago. None was injured in the firing. The Maoists had escaped into the forest by making the Adivasis as human shields.