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Cobras suffer big loss in Maoist battle

Raipur, Sept. 19: The Cobra, a force specifically trained to take on Maoists, has suffered its biggest loss yet, it emerged today with the discovery of the bodies of five personnel reported missing in Chhattisgarh yesterday.

The force, known as the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (Cobra), is locked in a battle with the Maoists in Dantewada district.

Security personnel found the five bodies in the dense forests of Palachalam after a wide search.

The Cobra force had sneaked into a Maoist den in Dantewada district on Thursday and destroyed an arms factory, besides killing 24 rebels.

Operation Green Hunt, launched on Thursday, has so far claimed six Cobra men, including assistant commandant Manoranjan Singh, whose body was found yesterday.

“After a massive search, security personnel spotted the bodies of five missing Cobra men in the dense forests of Palachalam,” IG (headquarters) R.K. Vij told The Telegraph.

Among those killed were assistant commandant Rakesh Chaurasia, a sub-inspector, a head constable and two constables.

This is the first time that the CRPF’s Cobra force has suffered casualties while combing the forests of Chhattisgarh ever since the special unit was formed last year to fight Maoist guerrillas. Commandos of the unit were seen in action during the Lalgarh operation in Bengal, too.

Besides calling in ground troops to look for the missing men, the state had planned to deploy an Indian Air Force helicopter to conduct the search operation. But the troops traced the bodies before the chopper could be air-borne.

Along with the state police, the Cobra men had launched a major offensive against the Maoists by storming their den in the Palachalam forest, about 600km from here.

At least 24 Maoists have been gunned down since Thursday. The police have recovered 10 bodies so far. The arms factory being run by the rebels has also been destroyed.

Police officers said the rebel casualty figures could be higher. The rebels may have carried away the bodies of some of their cadres while fleeing, they added.

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