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A Special Task Force (STF) jawan involved in Tuesday’s encounter on the border of Narayanpur and Kanker districts of Chhattisgarh fought off not just Naxalites, but also a wild bear that attacked him. Constable Mangal Mandavi sustained bite injuries on his leg in the face-off with the wild animal, police said. He was shifted to Narayanpur in a helicopter on Wednesday morning and admitted to the district hospital, they said, adding that his condition is normal.

Ten Naxalites, including three women, were killed in the encounter that occurred in the forest between Tekmeta and Kakur villages in Abhujmad area, a Naxalite stronghold, on Tuesday when a joint team of the STF and the District Reserve Guard, both units of the state police, was out on an anti-Naxal operation. Talking to PTI, Mandavi said, during the exchange of fire, he and his colleagues were busy in action in the forest, surrounded by bamboo trees, when suddenly three bears came there from behind.

Sensing the presence of wild animals, his colleagues managed to leave the place, while one bear charged towards him and caught hold of his leg when he tried to hide among bamboo trees, he said. The bear bit his legs, following which Mandavi retaliated with a stick, prompting the bear to escape. Though Mandavi sustained injuries on his leg, he continued to fight against Naxalites. He was shifted to Tekmeta, where he was administered preliminary treatment and he was airlifted to Narayanpur this morning, he said.

Police officials said, security personnel were asked to take extra precautions during their patrolling in the forest as they are not just fighting Naxalites, they also had to keep themselves safe from wild animals. Two of the 10 killed cadres were prima facie identified as Joganna and Vinay alias Ashok, who were active as divisional committee members of Maoists, police had said. This was a second major blow to the Naxalites within 15 days. The site of Tuesday’s encounter was 30 km south of Kalper village in Kanker where 29 Naxalites were killed in a gunfight with security forces on April 16, said a senior police official.