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10 Naxalites killed in Chhattisgarh encounter; toll at 43 this year; commando hurt in blast

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Raipur, Apr 2 (PTI) In a major anti-insurgency operation ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, security personnel gunned down 10 Naxalites, including a woman, in an encounter in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district on Tuesday, police said.

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With this, as many as 43 Naxalites have been killed so far this year in separate encounters with security forces in the Bastar region.

In a separate incident, a commando of the Central Reserve Police Force's jungle warfare unit CoBRA was injured when a pressure improvised explosive device (IED), planted by Naxalites went off in the district, police said.

Bijapur district comes under the Bastar Lok Sabha constituency, which will go to polls in the first phase of the general elections on April 19.

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The gunfight occurred around 6 am in a forest between Lendra and Korcholi villages under the Gangaloor police station area, where a joint team of security personnel was out on an anti-Naxal operation, Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range) Sundarraj P told PTI.

Personnel belonging to the District Reserve Guard (DRG), Special Task Force (STF), CRPF and its elite unit Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) were involved in the operation, he said.

"After the exchange of fire stopped, bodies of four Naxalites were recovered from the spot, and subsequently, six more bodies were found at the encounter site during the search," the IG said.

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A light machine gun (LMG), a .303 rifle, a 12-bore gun, a large number of barrel grenade launchers and shells, and other arms and ammunition were also seized from the spot, he said.

"The identity of the Naxalites was yet to be ascertained, but prima facie, it appears they belonged to PLGA (Peoples' Liberation Guerilla Army) company No. 2 of Maoists," the official said.

Reinforcement was rushed to the spot following the encounter and a search operation was still underway in the area, the IPS officer added.

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Meanwhile, a CoBRA commando, belonging to the CRPF's 202nd battalion, inadvertently stepped on a pressure IED, causing an explosion near Mudvendi village under the Gangaloor police station area. The commando suffered injuries on his legs, another police official said.

The jawan was part of a squad that was involved in the same anti-Naxalite operation but it was not engaged in the gun-battle, he added.

Notably, Naxalites carry out the Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC) in summers between March and June every year and step up their activities. Several attacks have been carried out against security forces in the Bastar region during this period.

On March 27, six Naxalites were killed in an encounter with security forces in the Basaguda area of Bijapur, police earlier said.

With the latest gunfight, 43 Naxalites have been killed so far this year in separate encounters with security forces in the Bastar region, comprising seven districts, including Bijapur, police said. PTI TKP GK ARU RSY

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