Three police officers killed in gunfight with Maoists in India

Six rebels die as security forces return fire in Chhattisgarh, which has suffered decades of armed insurgency

Indian Maoists training in Bijapur district in the state of Chhattisgarh in 2012. AFP
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Communist insurgents have killed three members of India's security forces and injured 15 others in an attack in the eastern state of Chhattisgarh, local police said.

The Maoist rebels, also known as Naxalites, have waged an insurgency in large areas of Chhattisgarh and neighbouring regions for decades despite government efforts to defeat them. They claim to be defending the rights of the poor and local tribes.

Police said six rebels were killed when security forces returned fire after being attacked late on Tuesday.

The attack came during an operation against the insurgents in the Jonaguda-Aliguda forests being carried out by the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) – a special unit of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force set up to fight the Maoists, the District Reserve Guard – an armed unit of the local police, and a police special task force.

“All the soldiers gave a befitting reply … our three jawans – two CoBRA jawans and one CRPF jawan – were martyred. Fifteen were injured too,” the area's police chief, Sundarraj P, said.

The area was the location for one of the deadliest attacks by Maoists in April 2021, when 23 CRPF personnel were killed. More than a decade earlier, in April 2010, Maoists killed 76 men from the CRPF in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada.

Attacks by the Maoists, who control vast swathes of mineral-rich, densely forested parts of eastern India, dropped by 77 per cent between 2010 and 2022, while the deaths among security forces and civilians fell by 90 per cent in the same period, from 1,005 to 98, according to Home Ministry figures.

Last week, Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah, whose Bharatiya Janata Party formed the government in Chhattisgarh in December last year, called for eliminating the insurgents from the state within three years.

Updated: January 31, 2024, 12:17 PM