The Kerala Police said that they had either injured or killed a suspected Maoist in a gun battle that broke out between the armed group and law enforcers in a forested locality near Vythiri in Wayanad district late Wednesday.
They said no officer had been injured in the firefight, which was continuing late into the night. Officers said around 10 Maoists, armed with automatic weapons -- possibly AK-47s, were holding the high ground. A squad of police commandos have pinned them down in a bid to encircle the group and force their surrender.
The police said their commandos encountered heavy fire from automatic weapons.
They fanned out in battle order, established a skirmish line and returned fire in equal measure.
Senior officers have ordered the commandos to proceed with caution so as to not get ambushed by booby traps laid by the retreating Maoists.
An officer said the Thunderbolts had given hot pursuit to the Maoists who had arrived at a local resort to demand cash and provision. The armed group had withdrawn into the forest from where they had appeared without warning.
The Maoists reportedly fired at the pursuing special forces, who retaliated with automatic fire, aggravating the situation. The Thunderbolts were kitted out with night vision equipment, and GPS and the senior officers were tracking their geospatial position and also the encounter as it unfolded in the dense forests with thick undergrowth.
The firefight came against the backdrop of increased activity by various "dalams" of the Western Ghats Zonal Committee of Maoists in Wayanad and Palakkad districts in a theatrical bid to highlight their presence and deter multiple arms of the government from enforcing peace in the localities.
Earlier, the armed Maoists reached the resort around 9 p.m. and sought food for 10 members of the team. While the resort staff were preparing food for them, some members of the armed group demanded ₹10,000 from the receptionist. Meanwhile, some staff of the resort informed the police of the presence of the Maoists.
When the Thunderbolt commandos reached the site the Maoists tried to escape. The exchange of fire took place around 9.30 p.m. near the resort.