A combined search party of Chhattisgarh Police's Special Task Force and Dantewada district police clashed with Naxals on Tuesday in the Gumiapal forests in Dantewada district.
Contrary to initial reports of security forces suffering heavy losses, a senior Chhattisgarh police officer told rediff.com, "All policemen involved in search operations in the Gumiapal forests are safe. There has been no casualty from our side. We have confirmed that they are still in the forest, and are on their way back."
"Some Maoists have been killed in the encounter. We are trying to ascertain the number of Maoists dead and get their bodies. The team is still inside the forest. We will know more when they come out," a senior intelligence officer said.
"Everyone in our party is safe. But the encounter is still going on. It is raining heavily and the firing is now only sporadic," Rajesh Kukreja, additional Superintendent of Police, Dantewada, told rediff.com.
Asked about the Maoists' casualty, he said, "We can confirm it only once the firing stops and a thorough search is conducted in the region."
Asked about earlier reports about some policemen were feared killed, he said: "I do not know. None of my officers gave out such information. We do not know which source the reports quoted. I can definitely say for sure that our entire forces are 100 per cent safe till now."
Asked how long it would take for the forces to come out of the forest, he said, "Once firing stops completely, they will make their way out of the forests. It is a 14 km trek, and in this weather, it will take at least five hours after firing has completely stopped."
On April 6, 75 CRPF personnel and a state policemen were killed in Dantewada after over 100 Naxals ambushed the patrol party and looted weapons.
In another incident on June 29, a large number of heavily-armed Maoists, perched on a hilltop, had opened fire with automatic weapons on a 63-member security contingent which was returning on foot from road opening duty, killing 26 CRPF personnel in Narayanpur district. The dead included a CRPF Assistant Commandant Jatin Gulati.