‘CRPF Jawans were surprised and ambushed’

Bodies of 17 security personnel were recovered from the jungles of Bijapur in Chhattisgarh, raising the number of deaths to 22 in the worst ever attack by Maoists in four years that resulted from an ambush by some 400 insurgents who surrounded the jawans from three sides in an area devoid of vegetation and rained on them machinegun fire as well as IEDs for several hours.

CRPF Director General Kuldeep Singh, who was directed by Home Minister Amit Shah to visit the state, acknowledged that his personnel were “surprised and ambushed” during the attack Saturday that lasted several hours. Other officials in the know of the developments said the forces may have been waylaid by the Naxals.

Out of the total 22 fatalities, the CRPF lost eight men including seven CoBRA commandos while one jawan is from the Bastariya battalion, eight from DRG and five from Special Task Force. A CRPF Inspector is still missing, they said on Sunday.

Some 10-12 Maoists are also believed to have died in the fierce gunbattle that ensued. A total of 31 security personnel were also injured.

Helicopters, which were requisitioned to evacuate the injured personnel, could make the first landing only after 5 PM on Saturday when the gunfire had ended, an official said.

The security personnel took cover behind large trees and kept firing till they ran out of ammunition, he added.