Updated: June 17, 2021 7:01:03 am
At least six Maoists, including two women, were killed in an exchange of fire with a Greyhound special forces unit in Visakhapatnam district on Wednesday morning, Andhra Pradesh Police said.
Among those killed was a senior Maoist leader, police said in a statement.
The encounter took place in the Theegalametta forest in Koyyuru mandal in Mampa police station area. Combing and search operations in the area were on, police said.
An AK-47 rifle, an SLR, a carbine, three .303 rifles, and a countrymade revolver were recovered from the scene of the encounter, police said.
A day before Wednesday’s encounter, alleged Maoists had exchanged fire with the Odisha Police near Kulabeda village at the border of the state’s southernmost districts of Malkangiri and Koraput. According to police, the Maoists had managed to escape, and were believed to have crossed into Andhra Pradesh.
Two of the four men killed on Wednesday morning have been identified as Ashok and Ranadev, both Divisional Committee members, and the two women cadres as Lalita and Paike. The remaining two men are yet to be identified, police said.
The encounter between the Greyhounds and Maoists came after nearly four years of calm in Andhra Pradesh. During this period, increased patrolling and combing operations had ensured there was not much Maoist activity — even though the rebels did sometimes threaten people in tribal villages by labelling them as informants, and distributed pamphlets with warnings to the government, officials said.
On March 5, Maoists had shot dead a former “militia member” whom they had accused of being a police informer in Kothapalem village of GK Veedhi mandal in Visakhapatnam district.
Two days later, a large number of tribals had participated in a huge protest against the killing, and burned Maoist leaders in effigy.
Over the past several months, dozens of Maoist cadres and lower level leaders have surrendered, or have been arrested in Andhra Pradesh.
The last major Maoist attack in Andhra Pradesh took place on September 23, 2018, when Kidari Sarveswara Rao, the Telugu Desam Party MLA from Araku Valley in Visakhapatnam district, was shot dead by a group from the CPI (Maoist)’s Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee.
The former TDP MLA Siveri Soma, a close friend of Rao’s, was also killed in the attack.
The anti-Maoist Greyhound forces and police have intensified patrolling and vigil in recent weeks following reports that several Maoists who had contracted Covid-19 in the Andhra-Odisha and Telangana-Chhattisgarh border areas were trying to enter towns and cities in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana for treatment in hospitals.
On June 2, Telangana Police arrested Gaddam Madhukar, a leader of the CPI (Maoist) Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee, near Warangal. Madhukar, who carried a reward of Rs 8 lakh, had come from Bijapur in Chhattisgarh to Warangal in Telangana for treatment. He died on June 6 while being treated for Covid-19.
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