In a major success in the anti-Naxal drive, security forces on Wednesday gunned down at least five Maoists in a gun-battle and seized arms and explosives in a forest on the border of Odisha's Ganjam and Gajapati districts, the police said.
A rebel was captured after the encounter, in which two security personnel were also injured, in Bhaliagada jungle under Mohana police station.
"Five Maoists were killed in the exchange of fire that took place after the ultras fired at a combing team and forced the jawans to retaliate in self defence," Director General of
Police Prakash Mishra told reporters in Bhubaneswar.
Acting on an intelligence input about the presence of a Maoist camp, a joint team of the Special Operation Group and district voluntary forces of Ganjam and Gajapati was conducting a combing operation in the forest when the Naxals opened fire, he said.
Five ultras were killed in the gun-battle while others ran away and disappeared in the forest.
Bodies of the five dead were found and identified. All of them were residents of Kandhamal district.
Some arms and ammunition and explosive material have been seized from the site and a search operation was on to nab the ultras who escaped, the director general of police said.
Both the police chief and Deputy Inspector General of Police (Southern Range) R K Sharma said the slain ultras belonged to a group headed by Sabyasachi Panda, who was recently expelled from the Communist Party of India - Maoist and had formed the Odisha Maobadi Party.
Although Panda was present in the camp and leading the attack on security forces during the operation, his whereabouts were not known immediately, the director general of police said.
Superintendent of Police (Gajapati) C S Meena and Superintendent of Police (Ganjam) Ashish Singh coordinated the operation.
Singh said it was possible that some of the Maoists including Panda, who fled, were injured.