NEW DELHI – Around 20 Maoist rebel fighters, two members of the police special forces and a civilian have been killed in clashes between the insurgents and security forces in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, police said on Monday.
The shootout began on Sunday morning and lasted four hours in a Maoist-controlled area in Sukma district, where the government is building a road, D.M. Awasthi, Chhattisgarh’s special director general of police (Naxal operations), told EFE.
The Maoists, who appeared in “large numbers,” killed the construction company’s manager and torched some of the machinery, which prompted the police special force members protecting the construction to respond, Awasthi said.
“We lost two special force staff members and six more were wounded although they are out of danger now,” the official added.
“More than 20, or even more” Maoists, who are also known as Naxalites, were killed in the encounter, although the exact number of guerrillas killed could not be verified as they had dragged the bodies away, according to Awasthi.
The Naxalite movement – named after its emergence from a revolt in a village in Bengal called Naxalbari in 1967 – wants to impose an agrarian, Maoist revolution and has remained active for over 50 years, especially in the so-called ‘red corridor’, an area that runs through central and eastern India which is known for the communist insurgency.
According to Indian government data released last year, the Maoist conflict in India has caused 12,000 mostly civilian deaths over the last few decades, although the past year has seen the movement lose strength with an exponential increase in despondent insurgents and a fall in their activities.
According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, 33 people, including 18 insurgents, have died so far this year in left-wing extremist incidents in India, compared to 332, including 149 guerrillas, killed in 2017.