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CoBRA unit and Maoists clash in Gaya ahead of first phase of Bihar election

A unit of the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)  clashed with a group of Maoists early Thursday morning in the hilly and forest areas of Chakarbandha in Bihar’s Gaya district, around 165 km from the state capital, police said.

No casualties or injuries were reported from either side in the encounter at Khajutia Bathan that started at around 4.30 am, police said. The Maoist escaped into the deep forest. Security has been heightened in five Maoist-affected districts of the state which go to polls in the first phase of the assembly election on October 28.

Following the encounter, the 159 battalion of the CRPF stationed at Aurangabad district and police forces from adjoining Palamu district of Jharkhand were sent as reinforcements.

Police said the 205 CoBRA battalion had seized several incriminating documents and electronic gadgets from the forests while conducting combing operations to nab the Maoists.

Around 1200 companies including central paramilitary forces have been deployed across the state to ensure peaceful polling in the first phase.

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Police sources said Thursday that an operation had been on in the Chakarbandha area since October 12.

“When our parties were searching, some men with AK-47 rifles and SLRs fired at us and we retaliated. As a result, they fled from the scene in the dark”, said a security personnel.

Gaya’s senior superintendent of police Rajiv Mishra confirmed the incident and said that extremists opened fire on the security forces.

“Search operations and intense combing operations are on at Imamganj, Dumaria, Bankebazar, Lutua, Sevra and other places to catch the Maoists,” he said.

According to reports from Gaya and Aurangabad districts, the Maoists have started poster campaigns and have set off explosions in remote areas ahead of elections to show their presence in their former strongholds. At least nine Maoists banners exhorting people to abstain from voting have been found in the state.

However, officials at the Bihar police headquarters downplayed the poster campaign. Despite the posters creating a flutter among the city residents, the senior police officers had said that it could be the handiwork of some anti-social elements trying to create fear ahead of the elections. Some of the posters also accused police of conducting fake encounters.

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