21 Maoists, including two top commanders Gajarla Ravi and Chalapati, were Monday killed in an exchange of fire with security forces on the Andhra-Odisha border, dealing a severe blow to the Naxalites in the region. Two senior commandos of Greyhounds, AP’s elite anti-Naxal force, were also injured in the exchange of fire and airlifted to Visakhapatnam for treatment.
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Sources said Ravi alias Uday and Chalapati, two high-ranking Maoists leaders, were suspected to be among those killed in the encounter that occurred during a routine combing operation being jointly carried out by police of both the states at Ramgurha in Malkangiri district of Odisha.
The two were carrying a reward of Rs 20 lakh each on their heads.
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One Munna, son of Maoist top leader Ramakrishna, was also said to be among the casualties.
Besides 15 men, some women Maoists were also said to be among those killed in the face-off which lasted for almost an hour early this morning.
When asked about this, a top-ranking police official said “it could be” but did not wish to comment further.
Police recovered four AK-47 rifles from the scene of the encounter, where a Maoist den was also found.
“A large haul of weapons like AK47s and self-loading rifles (SLRs) indicates clearly that it is a case where state level leaders could be present. Unless we identify them, we can’t exactly tell who is there,” Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police (in charge) Nanduri Sambasiva Rao said.
“It was a joint operation by AP and Odisha security forces. Police special parties were attacked with AK-47 rifles, SLRs and other weapons and this is what happened when they acted in self-defence,” Sambasiva Rao said.
“If there is any injured Naxal, we will airlift them as well. We are more interested in evacuating the police force and special parties and also Naxals if anybody is injured,” the DGP (in charge) added.
“We are in touch with the Odisha state police and we will take their cooperation (in the evacuation).We think the operation is over,” he said.