22 Indian soldiers killed in gun battle with Maoist rebels

10:19 PM | 4 Apr, 2021
22 Indian soldiers killed in gun battle with Maoist rebels

NEW DELHI – At least 22 members of Indian security forces were gunned down in a central Indian state by Maoist fighters, officials said on Sunday.

Security personnel belonging to 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 Chhattisgarh state during an anti-insurgency operation, Indian media reported.

“We can confirm that 22 of Indian force members have been killed by Maoist fighters,” said a senior government official in Raipur. They were killed in firing that lasted for four hours in the border district of Sukma, 540 kms (340 miles) south of Raipur, the official said.

The death toll was the heaviest for Indian security forces battling the far-left guerrillas since 2017.

Home Minister Amit Shah said the government will not tolerate such bloodshed and “a befitting response will be given to prevent such attacks.”

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.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter and wrote, “My thoughts are with the families of those martyred while fighting Maoists in Chhattisgarh. The sacrifices of the brave martyrs will never be forgotten. May the injured recover at the earliest."