Six Maoists, one CRPF trooper killed in Bengal gunfight (Lead)

July 26th, 2010 - 5:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Goaltore (West Bengal), July 26 (IANS) Six Maoists were gunned down and one paramilitary trooper was killed when joint security forces raided a rebel hideout here in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district early Monday, police said.
The clash began at 3 a.m. at the Metla forest after the joint security forces comprising central paramilitary troopers and crack state armed police teams conducted an operation after being tipped that the ultras had taken shelter there.

A trooper of the elite anti-Maoist Commando Batallion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was killed in the intense gunbattle.

“The CoBRA jawan Ashish Tiwari sustained serious bullet injury in the firefight. We were trying to airlift him to Kolkata. The chopper was ready. But he died while being taken towards the chopper,” Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh told IANS in Kolkata.

The bodies of all the six Maoists, including a woman, have been recovered and kept at the Goaltore police station.

“The bodies will be sent later in the day to the Midnapore district hospital for post mortem,” said a police officer.

The ultras were members of the dreaded Sidhu Soren action squad which was believed to have taken part in the attack on the Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) camp at Silda in February.

“It is likely that one of the bodies is of Sidhu Soren. But we need some more confirmation,” a senior police officer said.

The security forces have seized a self-loading rifle which they believe could belong to Soren.

The police chief announced compensation of Rs.15 lakh for the next of kin of the CoBRA trooper and reward of Rs.50,000 for each of the state policemen who participated in the operation led by Midnapore district police Superintendent Manoj Verma and Deputy Superintendent of Police Aneesh Sarkar.

Twelve pieces of firearms including a self-loading rifle were found from the spot, 210 km from Kolkata.

“The clash occurred in two phases. We got information that the Maoist action squad members were hiding in the Metla forest and surrounded them from two sides. When the ultras realised they had been cornered, they started firing and our men retaliated.

“After a few hours the firing stopped from the other side. Then our forces went and found the bodies of the Maoists. When they were bringing the bodies from the spot, the Maoists again started firing and our men retaliated,” Singh said.

Several other Maoists were injured, but managed to flee, he said. Firing has now stopped but the police were conducting a combing operation in the nearby villages.

This is the second biggest success of the joint security forces since they gunned down eight Left wing extremists at the Ranjha forest, about 20 km from Lalgarh, June 16.

The joint forces are engaged in combating the Maoists since June last year.

They were first deployed in West Midnapore district, but have now spread out to two other neighbouring Maoist-affected districts Bankura and Purulia.

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