Orissa: 9 Maoists killed in Rayagada

Bhubaneswar: Security forces in Orissa are clearly on the offensive against Naxals over the last two months. Nine Naxals including four women were gunned down in Naxal-hit Rayagada district in the early hours of Sunday.

The hilltop encounter near Sikarpai village came after a tipoff that a 25-member squad was camping here.

The Special Operation Group and the CRPF raided the hill and engaged the Maoists in a gunbattle between 2 and 4 am.

In the morning, police recovered nine bodies, including that of K Ravi, a dreaded Maoist commander responsible for violence in Rayagada and Gajapati districts.

Explosive materials and five guns including an INSAS rifle, two pistols and ammunition were also found in the area.

Clearly, the Maoists were poorly armed.

And significantly, most of the women from the local militia are not trained in jungle warfare.

Thanks to the initiatives taken by the Central Unified Command.

Orissa police which have adopted a defensive strategy against the Maoists for years has suddenly become aggressive.

In the last six weeks alone, 23 suspected Maoists including six minor girls have been killed in encounters inviting sharp criticism that innocent people were also targeted.

But such accusations are bound to grow as the war against the Maoists reaches a feverish pitch, in a not-very-distant future.