New Delhi: Security forces gunned down 14 Naxals in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district on Monday, three months after the bodies of 40 Naxals were recovered from Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra.

“An encounter broke out between the district reserve guard (DRG) and the special task force (STF) of the Chhattisgarh Police and the Maoists, during the intervening night of 5-6 August. As many as 12-14 Maoists have been reportedly neutralized," said a senior Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) official in New Delhi on condition of anonymity.

“On receipt of information, troops of the 217 battalion of the CRPF rushed for reinforcement and corridor protection," the CRPF official added.

Marking the second biggest encounter between Left-wing extremists (LWE) and security forces in a span of three months, intelligence reports have also pointed at discontent and factionalism within Naxal cadres, leading to a breakdown in their strategy in the area and rendering them vulnerable.

“There is now significant in-fighting within the Naxal cadres. Because of that, their strategies have become skewered, much to our benefit because we have been able to cash in on that and eliminate so many of them at one go in Gadchiroli district," according to an intelligence official who did not wish to be identified.

The situation was similar in Chhattisgarh, according to senior CRPF officials.

While Sukma district is a hotbed of Maoist activity, Abujmarh in Narayanpur district remains the nerve-centre of the Naxals.

Earlier this year, the Union home ministry removed 44 districts from the list of Left-wing extremists-affected regions, following which the CRPF decided to move deeper into Chhattisgarh’s uncharted Naxal territories.

The central paramilitary force plans to set up 17 new camps across the Naxal-dominated districts of the state, according to documents reviewed by Mint.

Each camp will have a deployment of two companies of CRPF. Each company will have 110 soldiers on an average.

“Camps are being set up across Sukma, Bijapur and Balrampur districts. In some areas, road and bridge construction has to be first carried out before setting up the camps, otherwise it would become difficult to provide administrative support to the companies deployed there," said a senior home ministry official, on condition of anonymity.

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