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Apr 16, 2009 at 04:07pm IST

Four Naxals killed, Nalco mine siege ends

Bhubaneshwar: Security forces have driven out Naxals, who attacked NALCO's bauxite mine in Orissa, on Monday morning after a nine-hour long gunbattle.

Central Industrial Police Force (CISF) personnel and the Special Operations Group were sent to the site after more than 200 Naxalites stormed Panchpatmali mine at Damonjodi in Koraput district on Sunday night.

According to reports, eight CISF personnel have been killed while 13 personnel injured during the gunbattle at Asia's biggest bauxite mine.

Officials claim four Naxals, too, have been killed in the operation. However, it is it is feared that the Naxals have looted weapons from the CISF armoury situated near the mine.

But nearly 100 workers who were trapped inside the mine are safe.

"The workers at the site have been probably locked up somewhere but are not being harmed. Maoists could have targeted the mine for seizing explosives stored there. We store explosives for mining operations. Police had earlier asked us to protect the area well, following which the security was stepped up," said Chairman and Managing Director of NALCO CR Pradhan.

The attack took place around 2130 hrs IST on Sunday night when over 200 Naxalites, including women stormed NALCO premises.

The operation by security forces was hampered as the roads to the mine were blocked and landmines laid in the area.

Earlier, Naxals had also launched attacks in Orissa's Malkangiri and Raygada districts.

NALCO mine in Damonjodi is Asia's largest bauxite mine. The company is one of the Navratnas of the country and was incorporated in 1981, as a Public Service Undertaking of Government of India.

The company is the largest aluminium complex in Asia and the sixth largest in the world. Nalco is also the largest exporter of the metal in the country with its own section of port facilities at Visakhapatnam.

The company's main units are Damanjodi and Nalconagar-Angul in Orissa.

(With inputs from Jajati Karan)