Six Maoists, one trooper killed in Bengal gunbattle (Second Lead)

July 26th, 2010 - 6:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Goaltore (West Bengal), July 26 (IANS) Six Maoists, including a top cadre, and a paramilitary trooper were killed in a gunbattle that ensued when security forces raided a rebel hideout in this area in West Midnapore district early Monday, police said.
The clash began at 3 a.m. in Metla forest under the Goaltore police station when the joint security forces - comprising central paramilitary troopers and armed police teams - conducted an operation after receiving a tip-off about the rebels.

A trooper of the elite anti-Maoist Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was killed in the intense gunbattle here, 210 km from Kolkata.

Monday’s incident is being billed as 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 bodies of all the six Maoists, including a woman, have been recovered and sent to the Midnapore district hospital for post-mortem. The rebels were members of the 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.

Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh claimed in Kolkata that Soren, general secretary of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), was among the Maoists whose bodies were recovered.

Founder-cum-head of the PCAPA’S militant wing Sidhu Kanhu Gana Militia, Soren had over 20 cases against him.

“We have learnt from our sources that one of the five male bodies could be that of Sidhu Soren. We have informed his family members to go to the hospital and identify him. Let’s see if they confirm,” said West Midnapore police superintendent Manoj Verma, who led the operation along with district deputy police superintendent (operation) Aneesh Sarkar.

Police also recovered sketch-maps of the Sarenga police station and that of a political party office. “They were planning to attack these two targets,” Verma said. Thirteen rifles, including five seized by the rebels from the security forces, were also found.

“We got one Insas rifle, which had the mark of the EFR second battalion, two 303 rifles, and a pistol,” Verma said. Besides, Maoist posters were also found.

The CoBRA trooper Ashish Tiwari died after sustaining a serious bullet injury. “We were trying to airlift him to Kolkata. The chopper was ready. But he died while being taken towards the chopper,” Bhupinder Singh told IANS in Kolkata.

The police chief announced a compensation of Rs.15 lakh for the next of kin of the CoBRA trooper and a reward of Rs.50,000 for each of the state policemen who participated in the operation.

“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 rebels 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,” the officer said.

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

The joint forces have been 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 Bankura and Purulia, which are also affected by Maoist activity.

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