RAIPUR: At least 22 members of Indian security forces were killed in a central Indian state by Maoist fighters, in one of the bloodiest attacks by the extreme left-wing group this year, officials said on Sunday.

Security personnel belonging to the Central Reserve Police Force’s elite CoBRA unit, the District Reserve Guard, and the Special Task Force were attacked on Saturday in the tribal-dominated Chhattisgarh state during an anti-insurgency operation.

“We can confirm that 22 of Indian force members have been killed by Maoist fighters,” said a senior government official in Raipur, the capital of mineral-rich Chhattisgarh.

They were killed in firing that lasted for four hours in the border district of Sukma, 540km south of Raipur.

Death toll is the heaviest for forces battling the guerillas since 2017

Om Prakash Pal, a senior police official in Raipur, said combing operations to trace one missing security force member were being conducted.

The death toll was the heaviest for Indian security forces battling the far-left guerrillas since 2017.

Home Minister Amit Shah said the government would not tolerate such bloodshed and “a befitting response will be given to prevent such attacks”.

The Maoists, also known as Naxals, have waged an armed insurgency against the government for decades. Leaders of the hardline leftist militant group say they are fighting on behalf of the poorest, who have not benefited from a long economic boom in Asia’s third-largest economy.

Since 1967 the group seen as the greatest threat to the country’s internal security have asserted control over vast swathes of land in central and eastern India, establishing a so-called “red corridor”.

The militant group operates from thick forests, and their operations against the Indian administration and forces are shrouded in secrecy. The group has not claimed responsibility for the latest attack.

Hours after the attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter that the “sacrifices of the brave martyrs will never be forgotten. May the injured recover at the earliest.”

Last month, five policemen were killed and several others injured in a blast in what police said was a Maoist strike targeting a bus carrying more than 20 security personnel.

Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

Price bombs
Updated 18 Jun, 2024

Price bombs

It just wants to take the easy route and enjoy the ride for however long it is in power.
Palestine’s plight
Updated 17 Jun, 2024

Palestine’s plight

While the faithful across the world are celebrating with their families, thousands of Palestinian children have either been orphaned, or themselves been killed by the Israeli aggressors.
Profiting off denied visas
Updated 19 Jun, 2024

Profiting off denied visas

The staggering rejection rates underscore systemic biases in the largely non-transparent visa approval process.
After the deluge
Updated 16 Jun, 2024

After the deluge

There was a lack of mental fortitude in the loss against India while against US, the team lost all control and displayed a lack of cohesion and synergy.
Fugue state
16 Jun, 2024

Fugue state

WITH its founder in jail these days, it seems nearly impossible to figure out what the PTI actually wants. On one...
Sindh budget
16 Jun, 2024

Sindh budget

SINDH’S Rs3.06tr budget for the upcoming financial year is a combination of populist interventions, attempts to...