RAIPUR, April 24 - At least 25 CRPF personnel were killed and six wounded in Chhattisgarh�s Sukma district today, the deadliest attack by Naxalites targeting security forces this year.
The Naxalites mounted the assault around 12:25 pm in Kalapathar area of south Bastar region, one of the worst-hit by Left-wing extremism in the country.
The area is close to the Chintagufa-Burkapal-Bheji axis, the hotbed of naxal violence which has seen a number of such attacks in the past resulting in high casualties.
�As per the latest report, we have lost 25 men. We are still to account for all the personnel and a search is on. About 7-8 boys are still missing. The last word on the encounter will come once the entire area has been searched and all troops contacted,� a senior CRPF officer said, adding the paramilitary patrol was about 99 personnel-strong.
President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the attack.
�Strongly condemn attack on CRPF personnel in Chhattisgarh; condolences to families of deceased and prayers for injured (sic),� the President said in a tweet.
Calling the attack a �cowardly and deplorable� act, the Prime Minister tweeted, �Attack on @crpfindia personnel in Chhattisgarh is cowardly & deplorable. We are monitoring the situation closely.�
�We are proud of the valour of our @crpfindia personnel. The sacrifice of the martyrs will not go in vain. Condolences to their families,� he added.
The incident occurred near Burkapal village within Chintagufa police station limits, Sukma Additional Superintendent of Police Jitendra Shukla told PTI.
An injured jawan, brought to a hospital here, said the CRPF patrol was attacked by around 300 Maoist guerrillas.
�The Naxals first sent villagers to check our position... I also saw some women Naxals. They were all wearing black uniforms and had sophisticated weapons like the AK series assault rifles,� the unidentified jawan said.
He said around 10-12 Naxalites must have got killed in the �befitting� retaliation by the CRPF contingent.
Sourav Malik, another personnel who was injured in the attack, said the patrol came under sudden fire from Maoist rebels.
CRPF officials said the ambush set up by the Naxals was as deadly as the one on March 11 in Bheji area of the same district where 12 personnel lost their lives. � PTI