Two Naxals, carrying cash rewards on their heads, were gunned down in an encounter with security forces in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district, police said on Saturday.
The gunbattle broke out around 11:30 pm on Friday in a forest near Kutrem village in the Kirandul police station area when a joint team of District Reserve Guard and local police was out on an anti-Naxal operation, Dantewada Superintendent of Police Abhishek Pallava said.
After a brief exchange of fire when the security forces personnel tried to zero in on the ultras, they escaped into the dense forest taking advantage of darkness, he said.
During a search of the encounter spot, the bodies of two ultras were found, Pallava said.
The ultras were identified as Lachu Mandavi and Podiya, both members of the Malangir area committee of the Maoists, the police said, adding that they were carrying cash rewards of Rs 5 lakh each on their heads.
Two weapons — a foreign-made 9 mm pistol and a 12 bore rifle — were also recovered.
The pistol has ‘Made in Italy’ inscribed on it and investigation is underway to ascertain the source of the weapon, he added.
Security forces have stepped up combing operation in the interior forests of Dantewada in view of the by-election to be held in the Dantewada assembly constituency on September 23.
The bypoll in the Left Wing Extremism-hit Dantewada seat, reserved for Scheduled Tribe community, has been necessitated following the demise of BJP legislator Bhima Mandavi in a Naxal attack in April this year.