Reported by Ranjan Rath
Malkangiri, Jan 5:
Five Maoists were reportedly killed in heavy exchange of fire with security personnel in the cut-off areas of Odisha’s Malkangiri district bordering Andhra Pradesh this morning, sources in the security establishment said. The crossfire was still on when reports last came in.
According to top sources in the state police, personnel of the elite Greyhound force of Andhra Pradesh police, the specially raised anti-Maoist outfit Special Operations Group (SOG) of Odisha and District Voluntary Force, a small constabulary unit of the Odisha Police, began a joint combing operation following intelligence information that the Maoists were running training camps at Vejingi and Pingapuram in the cut-off areas along the Chitrakonda reservoir last evening.
Talking to OST, IG, south-western range, Yashwant Jethwa said the as per intelligence reports, top Maoist leader and central committee member of the party Ramakrishna alias RK was present at the spot when the exchange of fire began this morning.
“But it is not yet clear if he is still there or has managed to escape,” he said adding there were more than 60 Maoists at the Pingapuram camp.
While confirming that some Maoists have been killed in the encounter, Jethwa declined to give any numbers.
“I can tell you the number of Maoist casualties only after the encounter is over and the bodies are recovered. It is not possible to give the exact number of casualties since the operation is still on,” Jethwa said.
Quoting a senior police officer in Andhra Pradesh, The Hindu reported that RK was addressing a plenary session in the area.
“Whenever such a plenary session is held and it is addressed by a senior leader such as RK, the Maoists deploy a five-tier security layer spanning a radius of about 5 km. Since the firing is still on we are yet to ascertain how may tiers we have been able to penetrate. And whether we will be able to reach RK or he would have escaped under the cover of fire, can be confirmed only after the firing ends,” the police officer was quoted as saying.