Patna: Security forces Wednesday gunned down four Maoists holed up in a dense forest of Bihar after a bitter gun-battle. They also recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition from their possession. The incident took place in Gurupa forests in Gaya district, 100km south of Patna.

Acting on an intelligence input that the rebels had gathered in the forests and are planning for a major operation, security forces from the elite Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (Cobra), a specialised unit of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) proficient in guerrilla tactics and jungle warfare, rushed to the jungle on Tuesday night and surrounded the rebels.

Reports said the rebels, after finding themselves surrounded by the security forces, opened fire leading to fierce gun-battle that lasted more than two hours. However, the rebels could not counter the heavily armed forces and fled the scene.

The police, who launched a combing operation in the area on Wednesday morning, recovered four bullet-riddled bodies of the Maoists lying in the forest. They also recovered several assault rifles and ammunitions from the spot.

“When we launched the search operation in the forest, the rebels hiding there opened fire on us leading to fierce encounter. We recovered four bodies from the spot,” Devesh Mishra, a senior Cobra official, told media Wednesday, adding the combing operation was continuing.

Two of the dead rebels are said to be hard-core Maoists of the rank of commander.

This is the first major encounter in Bihar since the year began. In July last year, the armed forces had killed four more rebels in Aurangabad district after the Maoists killed many police personnel by triggering improvised explosive devices (IED) when they went inside the jungle. Around 17 IEDs were triggered by the rebels, reports said.

Maoists are said to be operating in many parts of the state and routinely giving a call for shutdown to display their might. As per an official report, the rebels have been carrying out their disruptive activities in at least 17 districts of Bihar’s total 38 districts.