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India bids adieu to 25 security forces killed in ambush by Naxalite rebels

Xinhua, April 25, 2017 Adjust font size:

India Tuesday bid adieu to the 25 security forces personnel who were killed in a deadly ambush by Naxalite, or Naxal rebels, in the central state of Chhattisgarh's Sukma district Monday.

Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh laid wreaths on the coffins of the soldiers of the paramilitary Central Reserve Security Force (CRPF) and a 21-gun salute was given to the deceased, before the final rites were carried out.

The 25 soldiers died in a fierce gunfight with some 300 armed Naxalite rebels who had laid the ambush on them near Kala Pathar, close to Burkapal-Chintagufa area in the state's Sukma district.

Initially 24 CRPF troopers died on the spot, while another one succumbed to his injuries while being airlifted to a hospital, along with six other injured. The CRPF personnel were guarding a group of construction workers building a road in the area when the ambush took place.

After the encounter, the Naxalites looted all the arms and ammunition of the security forces, who belonged to the 74th battalion of CRPF.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described the deadly Naxalite attack as "cowardly" and "deplorable". "We are proud of the valour of our @crpfindia personnel. The sacrifice of the martyrs will not go in vain. Condolences to their families," he tweeted.

Sukma is part of the Naxalite stronghold in Chhattisgarh and this is not the first of such attacks in Sukma district.

Some 12 personnel of the CRPF were killed in the same district last month in another deadly Naxal ambush. That incident was reported in the dense forests near Kottacheru village, around 450 km away from the state capital of Raipur. It was one of the deadliest attacks on security forces.

After that deadly attack, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said it was a sign of "frustration" of the Naxalites because of the "unprecedented success" of the security operations against them.

"Last year, 135 extremists were killed, 700 were arrested, 1,198 surrendered, and there was a 15 percent drop in the number of Naxalite attacks," the minister told the parliament.

Initially, the Naxalite movement had its center in the eastern state of West Bengal. Subsequently, it spread into less-developed areas of rural southern and eastern India, such as Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

The Naxalites claimed that they are fighting for greater rights for tribal people and the rural poor.

Today, the Naxalites are active in more than one-third of India's 600-plus administrative districts. They routinely target Indian security forces. In 2010, they killed 74 policemen in the Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh in one of the most deadly attacks. Endit