Security forces gunned down eight suspected Maoists on Thursday in Telanganaâ€™s Bhadradri Kothagudem district. The encounter reportedly took place in Tekulapalli mandal at 6.30 in the morning.
"The extremists have been killed in the exchange of fire. They fired on the police team and, in the retaliatory firing, eight of them were killed. At least five weapons have been recovered from the scene. No policemen were injured in the incident ... The group members indulged in extortion and violence in the area," a police official told PTI.
Police officials said the men were formerly associated with the Jana Shakti group, and reports suggested that the men had regrouped and formed a â€˜dalamâ€™ (armed squad), which was operating in the area for the last two months.
The deceased all hailed from Nalgonda district and five of them were identified â€“ Eesam Naresh, M Samaih, Sanjeev, Narasimha and Amar.
Speaking to the Times of India, a top police official said, "The Maoists were operating in the tri-junction of the Jayashankar Bhupalapally, Bhadradri Kottagudem and Mahabubabad district. They were creating [an atmosphere of] terror in the area with their extortions and threats to kill contractors and traders."
Security forces in the state were on high alert after at least seven Maoists, including five women, were killed, and two others injured, in a fierce gunfight in the forests near Zinganur in Maharashtra earlier this month.
A patrol team of the elite C-60 commandos of the Anti-Naxal Operations (ANO) overcame "the brutal firepower" of the Maoists in the deep jungles of Maharashtra and eliminated seven people in what was billed as one of the biggest successes for the armed forces in recent times. The fighting took place around dawn when the Maoists opened fire on the ANO commandos in the forested outskirts of Kalled village, around 15 km from the Zinganur outpost.
The Telangana encounter comes just after Maoist groups observed their annual 'Peoples Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA)' week, from December 2 to 8. Here, they seek the support of locals, distribute pamphlets and try to enlist volunteers for their cause.
(With IANS inputs)