A CoBRA commando who was injured in Tuesday’s attack by Naxalites on security personnel in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region said his morale has not been affected, and he will soon return to the jungles to carry on the fight.

Three personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) including two belonging to its specialized jungle warfare unit CoBRA were killed and fifteen injured in the fierce gunbattle near Tekalgudem village in Sukma district.

Malkit Singh, who is undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Raipur, said the encounter lasted for more than four hours.

The attack began when the security personnel, after setting up a new camp in Tekalgudem, a Maoist stronghold along Sukma-Bijapur districts border, were engaged in sanitising the area, he said.

According to police, more than 1,500 personnel of the Special Task Force (STF) and District Reserve Guard (DRG) (both state police units), CRPF and its CoBRA unit were involved in the exercise.

Singh said Naxalites carried out a recce before launching the attack.

“..we (CoBRA personnel) reached Tekalgudem between 9:30 am and 10 am on Tuesday as a new camp was being set up there. Then we took position and launched a cordon in the area. Initially some (suspects) were seen watching us. They had apparently come to conduct recce to monitor our position. Suddenly a large number of Naxalites appeared and opened fire. They were also firing BGL (barrel grenade launcher) shells,” he said.

“We immediately took position and launched retaliatory action,” Singh added.

The Naxalites numbered around 300-400 and included women cadres, he said.

“We saw at least 15-20 Naxalites falling down after being hit by bullets but their colleagues took them to the interior forest,” Singh claimed.

“A bullet hit near my shoulder. Injured personnel were being evacuated amid firing. I walked for about two kilometers to get to the vehicle that evacuated us,” he said.

Of the three deceased personnel, constables Devan C and Pavan Kumar belonged to CoBRA’s 201st battalion and constable Lambghar Sinha was from CRPF’s 150th battalion.

All injured personnel including Singh belonged to CoBRA’s 201st battalion.

Asked whether he will return to the field, he said, “We have been setting up camps in the den of Maoists and therefore, they have become frustrated. I will definitely return and give them a tough fight.”