Bhubaneswar, March 12: Sambalpur police today destroyed a Maoist camp following an encounter with the rebels in the Sukhakani-Barhahad forest of the district.
Besides, the security forces intensified combing on the Malkangiri-Chhattisgarh border to thwart infiltration attempts by the rebels from the neighbouring state, where 16 persons, including 11 CRPF jawans, were killed in an ambush in Jeeram Ghati yesterday.
The incident, the second of its kind in Chhatisgarh in the past one year, took place barely 40km from Malkangiri.
“We have seized a lot of material from the camp site. Combing operation is going on,” said northern range DIG Sanjay Kumar, adding that the exchange of fire took place in the morning. However, no casualties have been reported in the incident so far.
Sources said there were 20 to 25 Maoists in the camp. The police came face to face with the rebels while undertaking a combing operation in the area. “We suspect that more Maoists are hiding in the area,” said a police officer.
In the past few years, the district has witnessed several gun battles between the rebels and the security forces. The last one took place in the Jadoluisingh forest on October 26, 2011. Though no one was injured or killed in the encounter, the police had laid its hands on a huge cache of arms and ammunition. The Maoists had fired 100 to 150 rounds during the encounter to which the police retaliated with 300 rounds.
A day before this encounter, the Maoist had attacked a camp and the stone crusher unit of the ARSS construction company at Munder in Jujomura block of the district. The rebels had set several vehicles of the company on fire. Yet another exchange of fire between the two sides took place in the Kisinda police limits of the district on October 8 the same year.
The Maoist had first marked their presence in Sambalpur with the killing of former sarpanch of Tampargarh in 2003. In 2005, they killed five persons in the district, including one at Tamparsingha in the Junomura police station limits. Ever since the district has been a Maoist stronghold.
“We are on the alert,” said chief secretary Jugal Kishore Mohapatra, who took stock of the security situation on Odisha-Chhattisgarh border in the wake of the incident.
In another development, Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde has vowed to take “revenge” for the Tuesday’s ambush, saying the attack could be an attempt to disrupt the Lok Sabha elections. “We will definitely take revenge,” he said.