Raipur | Jagran News Desk: At least 22 soldiers -- personnel from Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Special Task Force (STF) and the District Reserve Guard (DRG) -- lost their lives while several others are injured after the deadly counter with Naxals in the forests of Chhattisgarh's Bijapur and Sukma districts, said Bijapur SP Kamalochan Kashyap.

A fierce gunbattle had broken out between the security forces and the Naxals in jungles along the border between Bijapur and Sukma districts on Saturday. The officials said that nine Naxals -- including a woman Maoist -- were killed in the three-hour-long encounter.

"Separate joint teams of security forces, over 2,000 in number, had launched a major anti-Naxal operation from Bijapur and Sukma districts in the South Bastar forests, considered as the Maoist stronghold, on Friday night," said Chhattisgarh Deputy Inspector General (anti-naxal operations) OP Pal on Saturday.

"At around noon on Saturday, an encounter broke out between the patrolling team that was dispatched from Tarrem and ultras belonging PLGA (Peoples' Liberation Guerilla Army) battalion of Maoists near Jonaguda village under Jagargunda police station area (in Sukma)," he said, adding that reinforcements were rushed to the spot.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah took cognizance of the incident and wished a quick recovery to the injured jawans while adding that the sacrifices of the soldiers will never be forgotten.

"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," he tweeted.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel also condemned the incident and said that the state government will intensify anti-Naxal operation in response to the deadly attack. He also directed officials to ensure the best treatment for the injured jawans.

"Our jawans have displayed exemplary courage by inflicting massive damage on Naxals (in this incident). Operation against Naxals will be intensified," Baghel said in a statement.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma