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Raipur: 22 security personnel have lost their lives in the Naxal attack at Sukma-Bijapur in Chhattisgarh, said SP Bijapur, Kamalochan Kashyap on Sunday.

Separate joint teams of security forces, comprising over 2,000 personnel, had launched a major anti-Naxal operation from Bijapur and Sukma districts in the South Bastar forests, considered as the Maoist stronghold, on Friday night.

Personnel belonging to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), its elite unit CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action), the District Reserve Guard (DRG) and the Special Task Force (STF) were involved in the operation launched from five places – Tarrem, Usoor and Pamed (in Bijapur), and Minpa and Narsapuram (in Sukma).

When the patrolling team that was dispatched from Tarrem was advancing through a forest near Jonaguda, located around 500 km from the state capital Raipur, it was ambushed by cadres of the PLGA (Peoples’ Liberation Guerilla Army) battalion of Maoists, leading to the gun-battle.

“Some jawans, both from the police and paramilitary, were reported to be missing following the encounter and efforts are on to trace them, state Deputy Inspector General (anti-Naxal operation) O P Pal on Saturday had said.

Out of the injured personnel, seven have been admitted to a hospital in Raipur, while 23 others are undergoing treatment in the Bijapur district hospital.

Citing the “ground report”, Pal had claimed Maoists suffered a huge loss in the gunfight, but the body of only one woman Naxal could be recovered from the spot amid the heavy exchange of fire.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday condoled the death of security personnel in the encounter, and said their valour will never be forgotten.

Shah also spoke to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and took stock of the situation following the killing of the security personnel in an encounter with Naxals in the state, officials said.

Shah also directed Director General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Kuldiep Singh to visit Chhattisgarh to asses the situation.

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