10 Maoists killed in factional gunbattle

AS

At least 10 cadres of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), including those occupying senior positions in the Bihar-Jharkhand-North Chhattisgarh Special Area Committee (SAC), were killed in Chatra district in a gunfight with a breakaway group, Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC), which began on Wednesday evening and continued until the early hours of Thursday.

The police have recovered 10 bodies. According to reports, the gunfight began on Wednesday at 4.30 pm, at Lakramanda village. Police officials said it ended when a joint team of the CRPF and district armed police reached the spot at 3.30 am on Thursday.

Lalesh Yadav, secretary, Madhya zone of the SAC, Jaikumar Yadav, a platoon commander of the SAC, and two area commanders, Dharmender and Praful Yadav, were among those killed.

The four Maoists were named in over three dozen cases in Bihar, including the killing of seven CRPF personnel in Dumaria (Gaya) last October and six policemen and two civilians in Roshanganj (Gaya) in a landmine blast this February.

"Lalesh, Jaikumar, Praful and Dharmendra were top leaders of Madhya zone which includes Gaya and Aurangabad. Lalesh was spokesperson and all-in-all of Magadh regional committee, second only to Sandip who heads the Magadh zonal committee," said Bihar IGP (Operations) Amit Kumar.

"Our forces did not encounter much resistance when they reached the spot. They fired 18-19 rounds. Later, 10 bodies were recovered from the area," said Rajiv Kumar, DG, Jharkhand Police.

The DGP linked the firefight to the reported presence of Maoist central committee member Arvind Singh in the state. "The 10 who were killed were part of a 40-member team which entered the state from Bihar to provide support to Arvind's team, which was trying to move to north Jharkhand to meet them," said Kumar.

The security forces recovered an AK-56, two .303 rifles that previously belonged to the state police, three .315 rifles and several rounds of ammunition.

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