At least 24 members of the banned CPI (Maoist), including 8 women cadres were killed in an encounter with a combined team of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha police near Jantri in Panasput block of Malkangiri district in Odisha this morning.
As per reports, state police DG BK Singh told media that many top Maoist leaders were killed during the joint operation.
Two police constables were also critically injured in the encounter. The bodies of the deceased Maoists are being air lifted to Chitrakonda in Odisha for post mortem.
Police said acting on the tip-off about the presence of 50 to 60 ultras in the area; they attacked a Maoist camp located around 10 kilometres from Malkangiri district Headquarters.
A lot of ammunition and weapons, including 4 AK-47, 3 SLR and ten 303 rifles were recovered from the encounter site.
As per reports, Malkangiri district police said search and combing operations which started last night were still going on in the area and extra force is being sent to the area to intensify the combing operation.
Malkangiri is one of the areas severely affected by Maoist activities.
This is the second major encounter and the biggest in Malkangiri district of Odisha. In September 2013 in Podia block in Malkangiri district, thirteen Maoists were killed in an encounter with the police.
During the past one year, the strength of Maoists and their support base in Malkangiri had been decreasing due to surrender of hundreds of Maoist supporters including militias.