The encounter, which took place in the forests of Silger, an uncharted Maoist zone between the naxal hotbed of Jagargunda and Basaguda in Bijapur district of Bastar region, was launched last night in a joint operation by over 300 CRPF and state police personnel from three directions.
Seventeen bodies of the ultras have been recovered from the spot, Chhattisgarh ADG (Naxal Operations) Ram Nivas said, adding the combing operations were underway and the toll may rise. There were reports of three more naxals being killed.
Two Maoists, who were injured in the encounter, were apprehended and have been air-lifted for medical treatment to state capital Raipur, a senior CRPF official said.
This is the biggest offensive by the security agencies in the naxal stronghold in Chhattisgarh this year, the official said.
CRPF officials said two “prominent” naxals, operating in the Bijapur-Dantewada axis, were also killed in the encounter. Six CRPF men, including two CoBRA commandos, sustained bullet injuries and have been air-lifted for medical aid to Raipur.
Two of them are critical, he said. This is the same area, close to Chintalnar, where naxals had carried out an audacious attack on security forces killing 75 CRPF men and one state police personnel in April 2010.