Security forces hunt for Maoists in Orissa

February 18th, 2008 - 2:21 pm ICT by admin  

Bhubaneswar, Feb 18 (IANS) Security forces in Orissa Monday fought gun battles as they chased Maoist guerrillas who killed 14 policemen and escaped with a huge quantity of weapons two days ago. 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.

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.

Praharaj said the fleeing Maoists had spilt in groups. “So we are chasing them from all the sides,” Praharaj said.

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.

Maoist guerrillas shot dead 14 policemen in multiple attacks on police stations and a government armoury in Nayagarh district Friday night and early Saturday, escaping with hundreds of rifles and boxes of ammunition.

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

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