NEW DELHI: In an encounter with Naxals in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district on Saturday, 17 security personnel have lost their lives.

The encounter comes two years after the 2018 incident when 24 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel had succumbed to their injuries sustained in the attack.

On Saturday, following the encounter in Sukma’s Chintagufa, 14 injured soldiers were airlifted to state capital Raipur. The police had launched a search operation for five missing Special Task Force (STF) and 12 District Reserve Guard (DRG) soldiers.

"All 17 bodies have been recovered," the state police said, adding that a joint team of the DRG, CoBRA and the STF had launched an operation in the area on Saturday after receiving intelligence about substantial “Maoist presence in the area."

However, Naxals had opened fire on the team following which “the personnel responded heavily and aggressively."

A senior security force personnel said that Naxals had laid out an ambush for the troops when they were retreating after the encounter had concluded, which eventually led to loss of lives.

A senior intelligence official added that, “They (Naxals) have been re-grouping for a long time now under Basavraj. Basavraj is highly trained in guerrilla warfare and IEDs and ambushes. Even though we acted well on time, our men were highly outnumbered with around 300-350 Naxals being involved in the ambush."