115 rifles looted by Maoists recovered in Orissa

February 18th, 2008 - 4:54 pm ICT by admin  

(Lead)

Bhubaneswar, Feb 18 (IANS) The Orissa police Monday recovered 115 rifles and a huge cache of ammunition from Maoist guerrillas, as officials said the rebels had looted around 1,000 rifles after killing 14 policemen two days ago. “We have recovered as many as 115 rifles and about half-a-truckload of ammunition from forest areas during combing operations,” Director General of Police Gopal Chandra Nanda told reporters here.

The security forces continued a massive operation to hunt down the guerrillas after they stormed several police posts and attacked a government armoury in Nayagarh district Friday night and early Saturday, escaping with rifles and boxes of ammunition.

Nanda said the rebels had looted over a 1,000 rifles and over a 100,000 live bullets.

Hundreds of security personnel were pursuing the Maoists in the forests near Gasma hill in Ganjam district where the rebels have taken shelter, Additional Director General of Police Manmohan Praharaj told IANS.

Praharaj, who is leading the operation, said several rounds of gun battles have erupted with the rebels since Saturday.

There was heavy fighting Sunday, when the security forces intensified combing operations in the forest areas.

Praharaj said the fleeing Maoists had split into groups. “So we are chasing them from all sides.”

According to a home department official, at least 1,000 security forces personnel, including about 200 men from Greyhound - the elite anti-Maoist special force of Andhra Pradesh - were combing the area.

Officials said the attack was suspected to be the handiwork of Maoist leader Sabysachi Panda, who hails from Nayagarh district.

Home Secretary Tushar Kanti Mishra Sunday told reporters that at least 20 rebels and three security personnel had been killed in the battles late Saturday and Sunday.

However Nanda said the number of Maoists killed in the battle could be higher.

“The people living in the forest informed that they had seen about 20 bodies of the Maoists in their localities but we believe it could be much more,” he said.

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