As many as 21 security personnel were missing on Sunday after a gunfight with suspected Maoists in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said, ANI reported. Central Reserve Police Force Director General Kuldiep Singh reached the state to take stock of the situation.
Five security personnel were killed and 30 others were injured in the incident, which took place on Saturday. The gunbattle broke out when a joint team of security forces was out on an anti-Maoist operation. Two alleged Naxalites were also killed in the gunfight.
Baghel said that out of the injured personnel, seven were admitted to a hospital in Raipur and were out of danger. “Twenty-one personnel are missing and rescue team is searching for them,” he added.
The chief minister added that the firing went on for four hours, in which the alleged Naxalites “suffered heavy losses”.
Director General of Police DM Awasthi told the Hindustan Times that out of the five personnel who lost their lives on Saturday, the body of two had been recovered, while three were still in the jungle. “Some security personnel are missing and a search operation is on,” he added.
An unidentified police officer told the newspaper that five personnel of Central Reserve Police Force’s Commando Battalion for Resolute Action were among the security personnel who were missing.
“The death toll could increase in the next few hours [on Sunday],” the official added. “The teams for evacuation have been sent to the jungles.”
Shah speaks to Chhattisgarh CM
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday spoke to Baghel and took stock of the situation. “I received a call from Home Minister Amit Shah,” Baghel told reporters, according to ANI. “He has sent CRPF director general to the state. I will return to Chhattisgarh in the evening.”
Earlier, Shah said in a tweet that the valour of the security personnel will never be forgotten. The home minister added that the government will “continue its fight against these enemies of peace and progress”.
On Saturday, Baghel had also expressed his sadness at the incident. “The martyrdom of our security forces will not go in vain,” he tweeted.
On March 23, five security forces personnel were killed and 14 others injured in Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur district after suspected Maoists allegedly attacked their bus with an improvised explosive device. The officials were part of the District Reserve Guard. The explosion took place when the security personnel were returning from an anti-Maoist operation