Security forces in Andhra Pradesh are 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 early on Wednesday.
The area where the gunfight took place, borders the states of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, and even Odisha.
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 and eliminated seven of the attackers in what was billed as one of the biggest successes in recent times.
The insurgents eliminated on Wednesday were on the police 'wanted' list for several years and collectively carried a reward of Rs 28 lakh on their heads.
The Maoists have been identified as Sunita Kodape (reward Rs 6 lakh), Akhila Kulmethe (Rs 4 lakh), Shaila and Sarita (each Rs 2 lakh), Chandu (Rs 6 lakh) and Aiytu (Rs 8 lakh) while one woman has yet to be identified, officials said.
Following this, security has been stepped up against possible retaliation by the Maoists in all parts of the district in Maharashtra, especially since it happens to be a transit point for the insurgents who move between Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Attempts to disrupt peace
This also came a day after a landmine blast was allegedly triggered by Maoists near the Andhra Pradesh-Odisha Border (AOB), close to Jakkam village.
The Naxals fired upon the police personnel, who retaliated and made the Maoists flee into the forest, Visakhapatnam Superintendent of Police Rahul Dev Sharma told reporters.
Maoists are presently indulging themselves in the annual People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) week, which began from December 2.
According to reports, during the PLGA, the Maoists attempt to regroup, hold public meetings, take up recruitment drives and also try to destroy government property or target security personnel.
“Keeping this in mind, we intensified the combing operations with more security personnel,” DIG Visakhapatnam range Srikanth was quoted as saying.
Since the last week of November, Maoists have struck on several occasions and killed at least five civilians suspecting them to be police spies. They also gunned down two security personnel.