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SOURCE: PTI

Maoists fired dozens of crudely-made rocket-shaped barrels called BGL and unleashed heavy gunfire in their lethal attack on a CRPF unit in Chhattisgarh on a day the paramilitary force opened a new camp in a remote area of the Bastar region, official sources said Tuesday.

Three personnel of the central paramilitary force were killed and 15 others were injured during the gun-battle that took place in the Tekalgudem village, located along the borders of Bijapur and Sukma districts of the state.

Located about 450 kms south from state capital Raipur, the districts in the Maoist area are part of the most violent Bastar region of Chhattisgarh.

“The CRPF has taken many fatal and non-fatal casualties while creating forward operating bases called FOBs. This incident is an addition to that,” a senior commander of the force said.

The Barrel Grenade Launcher (BGL) is a country-made improvised ammunition that the Naxals developed sometime in 2021.

They used dozen of these during the attack in Tekalgudem Tuesday, a senior security officer told PTI.

About half-a-dozen personnel suffered mild to serious splinter injuries from the explosion of these rockets. The rest suffered bullet injuries, an another officer said.

The BGLs are filled with explosives inside their iron casing and have fins on their tail that help them take flight.

The area is dominated by the 1st battalion of the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) which is known for executing some of the most audacious attacks on the security forces in Chhattisgarh over the past several years, the sources said.

The strength of the Maoists in this forested area can be gauged from the fact that in April 2021, 23 security personnel were killed in a Naxal attack here.

That is why, the sources said, the CRPF has been creating a FOB in this area and the facility was opened on Tuesday when the attack took place around 1 pm, they said.

About 30 FOBs have been created by the CRPF in the Bastar region over the past three years. The FOBs are meant to provide a leg-hold to the security forces operating deep in the Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected territory.

A team from the 201 CoBRA battalion was leading the operation along with personnel drawn from the 150th battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) along with some component of the state police, they said.

The Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) is a jungle warfare unit of the CRPF.

The troops mounted effective retaliation and as per initial assessment, about four Naxals were killed. However, their bodies have not been recovered, the officials said.

The personnel killed in the line of action have been identified as constables Devan C (201 CoBRA), Pawan Kumar (201 CoBRA) and Lambadhar Singha from the 150 CRPF battalion.

Two CoBRA officers deputy commandant Lakhveer and assistant commandant Rajesh Panchal were among the injured.