Raipur | Jagran News Desk: The security forces on Sunday recovered the bodies of the 17 jawans who went missing after the deadly encounter with Naxals in the forest of the Chhattisgarh's Bijapur and Sukma districts, taking the death toll to 22. The death toll is expected to rise as one more jawan is still missing, the officials said, adding that a search operation is underway.

The officials have revealed that the Naxals might have planned the ambush well in advance to inflict damages on the security forces. They believe that "light machine guns (LMGs) and desi rockets" were used by the Naxals during the encounter.

"Force commander told me that Naxals had hidden an LMG somewhere…from that position, they kept firing while hiding in safety. UBGL, desi rockets etc. have been used earlier too, but this time the intensity was a lot more," CRPF director-general (DG) Kuldeep Singh told News18.

Though the Naxals used LMGs and desi rockets, the officials said that several Maoists were also gunned down by the security forces. However, the body of only one Naxal -- a woman -- has been recovered.

"Naxals carried away their dead and injured in three tractors. So you can imagine the kind of casualties they suffered," Singh told News18.

Amit Shah takes stock of situation

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who was supposed to address multiple rallies in poll-bound Assam on Sunday, has cut short his visit and reached Delhi to take stoke of the situation.

Earlier in the day, Shah had also condoled the death of security personnel in the encounter and said that the government will continue its fight against such enemies of peace and progress.

"I bow to sacrifices of our brave security personnel martyred while fighting Maoists in Chhattisgarh. Nation will never forget their valour. My condolences are with their families. We will continue our fight against these enemies of peace and progress," he had tweeted.

What happened during the anti-Naxal operation?

A joint party of the CRPF, Special Task Force (STF) and District Reserve Guard (DRG) had launched an operation on Friday night in five places - Tarrem, Usoor and Pamed (in Bijapur) and Minpa and Narsapuram (in Sukma). However, the Naxals at noon on Saturday laid an ambush that led to the encounter that lasted for nearly three hours.

Initially, the officials said that five jawans were killed and several others injured while many were missing. Following the encounter, the Indian Air Force (IAF) deployed its helicopters to help rescue the injured soldiers.

Later, the officials said that reinforcements were sent to the spot, adding that top officials of the CRPF -- including Director-General Kuldeep Singh, ADG (HQ) Zulfiqar Hassan and IG (Operations) Nalin Prabhat -- have reached the spot to take a stock of the situation.

"The firing between Naxals and security personnel went on for 4 hours. Naxals have suffered heavy losses. The martyrdom of our security personnel will not go in vain," said Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma