**Raipur: ** Eight Maoists, including four women, were gunned down in a gun battle with security forces in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district early on Thursday, police said.
The incident took place around 6.30 a.m. in a forest near Timenar village along the border of Bijapur and Dantewada districts when a joint team of the District Reserve Guard and Special Task Force were engaged in an anti-Maoist operation.
The area is located around 450 km from the state capital Raipur and is known as one of the hotbeds of the insurgency.
Confirming the incident, Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range) Vivekanand Sinha said that patrolling and search operations in the area had been intensified ahead of the President’s visit to Dantewada on July 25.
“The joint team had launched the search operation near Timenar village forest on a tip off when the exchange of fire broke out,” said the official.
Additional police forces were rushed to the spot after the incident and eight bodies of Maoists were recovered. “Four of the dead Maoists are women.”
Eight high-tech weapons, including two INSAS rifles, two .303 rifles, two .315 rifles, a pen gun and a 12-bore gun were recovered from their possession.
Police said the firing lasted two hours and that an unknown number of fighters managed to flee from the spot.
In April, eight Maoists — six of them women — were also killed in a joint operation by Chhattisgarh and Telangana security personnel near the inter-state boundary in Bijapur.
The Centre has deployed thousands of federal and regional police forces in the region to fight armed groups who have been locked in a decades-old conflict that has cost tens of thousands of lives.
Hundreds of Maoists tend to dominate vast swathes of mineral-rich areas in the country’s east and centre, claiming to speak for the local tribes.
According to a government data, over 120 people have been killed in the last six months in Maoist violence and operations conducted against the rebels.
Last week, two paramilitary soldiers were killed by the rebels in the same region.