Raipur | Jagran News Desk: The death toll in the deadly Naxal attack in the jungles of Bijapur and Sukma districts in Chhattisgarh reached 22 on Sunday after the security forces discovered 17 bodies. The Naxal attack in Bijapur is considered as the worst ever assault on security forces by the Maoists.

The attack was carried out by 400 Naxals who "surprised and ambushed" the security forces by trapping them in a U-shaped trap, said CRPF Director General Kuldeep Singh. Singh said that the "well-planned" attack was carried out by the Naxals using light machine guns (LMGs), desi rockets and small improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Singh, however, dismissed that there was any "intelligence or operational failure" in the operation while adding that nearly 25 Maoists were also killed during the encounter. He, however, said that the exact number is yet to be ascertained.

"There is no point in saying that there was some kind of intelligence or operational failure. Had it been some intelligence failure, forces would have not gone for the operation. And if there was some operational failure, so many Maoists would have not been killed," he said while speaking to news agency ANI.

"Three tractors were used by Maoists to carry the injured and the dead bodies from the site. It is tough to say right now the exact number of Maoists killed in the operation but it should not be less than 25-30," he added.

Intelligence inputs had suggested that top Naxal commander Madvi Hidma was present at Tarrem, an area in bordering Bijapur-Sukhma districts, following the CRPF, DRG and Special Task Force launched a joint operation.

Security forces from five different areas -- Tarrem (760), Usur (200), Pamed (195) from Bijapur district, Nimpa (483) and Naraspuram (420) from Sukhama — set out on the intervening night of April 2 and 3 and converged at Junagada where they were ambushed by Naxals in a planned manner at 10 AM on Saturday, officials said.

The gunfight continued till late afternoon and the forces could only evacuate the injured after 5 PM through a helicopter.

Five bodies were recovered on Saturday while the remaining 17 were found on Sunday. All the 22 bodies were taken to Bijapur where medical formalities would be completed followed by a wreath-laying ceremony on Monday. The dead included one sub-inspector, head constables, constables and assistant constables.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma