Fifteen Maoist guerrillas were killed and two others, including a senior cadre and an injured woman rebel, were held after a gun battle with security forces in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district on Monday.
The fighting started around 6.15 a.m. near a village forest in Miltkatong area when the District Reserve Guard (DRG) of the Chhattisgarh Police force, who are trained to fight the Maoists -- were out on an anti-insurgency operation.
The gun battle took place at a spot situated between Gollappalli and Konta, hotbeds of insurgency around 490 km from Chhattisgarh.
Police said the firing lasted for around one-and-a-half hours and an unknown number of fighters managed to flee from the spot.
Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range) Vivekanand Sinha said that the operation was conducted by the DRG personnel as they were out on the operation since August 4.
Earlier, the Chhattisgarh Police had said that the operation was conducted by a joint team of the DRG and Special Task Force.
"The operation lasted till 7.30 a.m. Area committee commander Deva and a woman Maoist were held during the operation," said Sinha, adding that the woman has suffered a bullet injury to her leg.
The operation was based on an intelligence input regarding the presence of a large number of Maoists in the area. The rebels were killed as they retaliated with firing when the police asked them to surrender.
Sixteen high-tech weapons, including INSAS rifles, .303 rifles, .315 rifles, 12-bore guns, explosives, detonators, electric wires, battery, medicines, Maoist literature, banners and some posters, were recovered from the site.
Sukma Superintendent of Police Abhishek Meena said: "The operation was conducted after we got inputs that the Konta Militia Group was conducting meetings with villagers and trying to recruit them."
The operation was launched over the last few weeks. "Last week we missed them by an hour. But this time the police party was on time," Meena told IANS.
Eight Maoists, including four women, were gunned down in a similar operation conducted by security forces in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district on July 19.
In April, eight Maoists -- six of them women -- were killed in a joint operation by Chhattisgarh and Telangana security personnel near the inter-state boundary in Bijapur.