Five policemen were killed in central India and 18 were missing in one of the deadliest attacks by Maoist insurgents on security forces in recent months, two police officials said on Sunday.
Security personnel from the Central Reserve Police Force’s elite CoBRA unit, the District Reserve Guard and the Special Task Force were attacked on Saturday in the tribal-dominated state of Chhattisgarh during an anti-insurgency operation, said Om Prakash Pal, a senior police official.
The policemen were killed in firing that lasted for four hours in the border district of Sukma, 540 kms (340 miles) south of the state capital, Raipur.
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Combing operations continue to locate the missing 18 police men, Pal said.
The Maoists, also known as Naxals, have waged an armed insurgency against the government for decades. Leaders of the hardline leftist militant group say they are fighting on behalf of the poorest, who have not benefited from a long economic boom in Asia’s third-largest economy.
Hours after the latest attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter that the “sacrifices of the brave martyrs will never be forgotten. May the injured recover at the earliest.”
Five policemen were killed and several others were injured in a blast in another district last month in what police said was a Maoist strike targeting a bus carrying more than 20 security personnel.