Five Maoists, including a commander carrying a reward of Rs 25 lakh, were killed in an encounter in the Lawalong police station area in Jharkhand's Chatra district on Monday.

The slain Maoist commander has been identified as Gautam Paswan.

Police are conducting extensive search operations in the area after recovering a large cache of arms and ammunition, including several AK-47 and INSAS rifles.

Confirming the incident, SP Rakesh Ranjan said that the number of Maoists killed could be more and complete information will be revealed after the search operation concludes.

According to sources, Chatra district police and paramilitary troops were conducting a search operation in the forests of the area adjoining Palamu district when the Maoists ambushed the security forces.

The security forces retaliated and the crossfire continued for at least three hours. While five deaths have been confirmed, some Maoists managed to escape.

Locals identified the eliminated extremists as Ajit Oraon aka Charlies, Amar Ganjhu aka Dhiru, Ajay Yadav aka Nandu, Sanjit Bhuiyan aka Sagar and Gautam Paswan.

Squads of CRPF CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action), Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) and police from Palamu and Chatra were involved in the operation.