Raipur: Twenty security personnel lost their lives in a fierce encounter with Naxals in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district on Tuesday. There were 44 personnel from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Chhattisgarh Police who were assisting a road construction and demining party when the troops were attacked by over 200 heavily armed Naxals.
The dead included 15 CRPF members and 5 state police personnel. Chhattisgarh Police ADG Mukesh Gupta confirmed the deaths. "The incident happened at around 10:30 am. Causalties on Naxal side have not been determined yet. The injured security men have been taken to the hospital," said Gupta.
"The joint police party had gone out for road opening at 9 am. The party started at Tongpal area and was ambushed by Naxals as they moved ahead. We had losses because of topography which was not favourable to us. There were 44 men in two teams. The forces fired back and as a result the other isolated party was saved," he said.
He denied that standard operating procedures were violated. "Operating procedures change according to situations. There was no violation of the operating procedures. The forces have fought valiantly. The opening of Jiram post was a major setback for Naxals," he added.
Chief Minister Raman Singh will reach Raipur shortly. He has expressed regret and said that security will be beefed up for the Lok Sabha elections. "50-60 companies will not do. They will have to double the forces for the elections," he said.
Meanwhile, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has denied this was an intelligence failure. He, however, assured of strong action.
"I spoke to DG CRPF and told him to reach the spot immediately. I can't comment on intel failure at this stage. I condemn this attack. This is the second time in same area. We have taken it very seriously. We will fight back," he said.
The encounter took place near the Jiram Ghati area of Sukma and lasted for about 30 minutes.
According to police sources, the Naxals overpowered the security personnel at the site.
Sukma is where Naxals had killed top Congress leaders in an attack in May 2013.