MUMBAI, India (Reuters) – The number of Maoist militants killed in an ambush by Indian security forces has risen to 37 after more bodies were pulled out of a river on Tuesday, authorities said.
After a four-hour gun battle on Sunday, some 16 militants, including women, were found dead, but police said an unknown number had been shot as they tried to escape into the Indravati river. Their bloated bodies began to surface on Monday.
“We pulled 15 dead bodies from the river on Monday and Tuesday,” said Prashant Diwate, a police spokesman in Gadchiroli.
Landless peasants and tribal people form the rank and file of the Naxalalites, a movement whose origins go back to the late 1960s.
The name is derived from a village in West Bengal state where the group was founded. At that time they used bow and arrows, but these days they are armed with Kalashnikov automatic rifles and weapons captured from raids on police posts.
According to the Interior Ministry more than 5,500 people have been killed since 2009 until the end of March in insurgencies stoked by what it calls left-wing extremism.
Last month, a roadside bomb killed nine police in Sukma district of Chattisgarh state.