Malkangiri (Odisha), November 5:

At least five Maoists, including two women, were killed in an exchange of fire with security personnel in a forest in Odisha’s Malkangiri district Monday, a senior police official said.

Though five ultras were eliminated, their leader ‘Randev’, managed to escape from the area which is considered to be a naxal hotbed, police said.

“Based on credible information about presence of armed CPI (Maoist) group, an anti-Maoists operation was launched on Sunday evening in Poplur Kurmanur forest (Bejangiwada Reserve Forest) under Kalimela Police Station of Malkangiri by the District and State Operations Wing by mobilising two units of Special Operations Group (SOG),” DGP R P Sharma told reporters.

Stating that there was no injury or casualty among the police personnel, the DGP said death toll in the encounter could rise as search operations were still in progress in the area.

The security personnel recovered two SLR rifles, 1 INSAS rifle, one .303 rifle, one grenade and other articles from the spot, Sharma said.

Additional Director General of Police (Operations) R P Koche said efforts were on to track other rebels who fled the area during gun battle.

Two teams of SOG had been conducting a combing operation since Sunday evening and they spotted a group of Maoists in the jungle. After noticing the security personnel, the Maoists fired and the SOG jawans retaliated leading to the encounter, police said.

Three of the five deceased Maoists have been identified as Unga Sodhi, Mase Madhi and Seema Kendruka, the police said. They were all members of the Kalimela Dalam.

The identity of the two other slain Maoists was yet to be ascertained, sources said.

Police said Unga Sodhi and woman cadre Mase Madhi alias Sunir hailed from Rajulkonda area under Kalimela police limits in the district while another woman Seema Kendruka was from Narayanpatna in neighbouring Koraput district.

Describing the operation as a “spectacular achievement” of the district and operations wing of the state police, the DGP said Kalimela Police Station area is considered to be a stronghold of CPI (Maoist).

Sharma said, “We area planning to go for more deployment of central force in cut-off areas, now called Swabhiman Anchal in Malkangiri district.”

The DGP also said the state has already sought two more battalions of central force for deployment in Malkangiri, Koraput and some other areas bordering Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

The recovery of grenade and semi-automatic weapons indicated that the rebels under the leadership of Randev, a divisional committee member (DCM), were planning a major strike in the area.