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Using human shields Maoists kill 13 CRPF men in Chhattisgarh

RAIPUR (Chhattisgarh): Thirteen CRPF personnel, including two officers, were on Monday killed while an equal number were injured in an encounter with Maoists in the Naxal stronghold of Sukma district in Chhattisgarh.

According to reports reaching the force’s headquarters here, a squad of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel was undertaking operations in Kasanpara village of the district in the south Bastar region when they entered into an encounter with the Maoists at around 1030 AM.

The engagement, a senior officer said, continued till 1400 hours with casualties occurring on both sides. The officer said that the Maoists fired at the CRPF patrol party taking the aid of locals and villagers and hence the force had to fire with restraint.

Most of the troops suffered bullet injuries and have been air-lifted to Jagadalpur and the state capital here for treatment.

“Two officers, one in the rank of Deputy Commandant and an Assistant Commandant, have been killed while over a dozen personnel have been injured,” the officer said, adding that the squad was in the jungles for the last 10 days to carry out operations.

Incidentally, five CRPF personnel were injured last week in the same area in an encounter with the Maoists.

Reinforcements are being sent to the area and the offensive by security forces is being led by CRPF Inspector General (Chhattisgarh), HS Sidhu.

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh condemned the Maoist attack, calling it an act of ‘cowardice’. The Maoists seek the overthrow of the government and have operated for decades across a wide swath of central and eastern India.

They have grown in strength in recent times in areas where poor, tribal villagers have come into conflict with mining companies seeking resources for industrialisation. Security experts say the insurgency is India’s biggest internal security challenge.