Bodies of missing security personnel  17 security personnel, who were missing after an encounter with naxals when a joint team of security forces was out on an anti-Naxal operation in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh, were found on Sunday, said police.

Many personnel were untraceable and security forces launched a search for them in the forest since yesterday.

“Bodies of 17 security personnel were recovered by a search team and were being evacuated from forests,” news agency PTI quoted Inspector General of Police (Bastar range) Sundarraj P as saying.

Earlier, in a major joint offensive, separate teams of nearly 600 personnel belonging to the District Reserve Guard (DRG), Special Task Force (STF) and Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA)- an elite unit of CRPF, launched an anti-Naxal operation from three sides towards Elmagunda after getting inputs about a huge gathering of ultras there on Saturday.

In a gun battle which lasted for about two-and-a-half hours when around 250 ultras, who were heavily armed , ambushed the patrolling teams when they reached near Minpa village forests, leaving 15 personnel injured, said IG.

Earlier, the police in a statement said 14 police personnel were injured and 13 were missing after the gunfight.

The injured personnel were airlifted to Raipur and admitted to a private hospital where the condition of two of them is stated to be critical, he said.

According to police sources, at least 16 automatic weapons, including AK47 and an Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL) were missing following the encounter.

“Based on the ground inputs, it is believed at least four to five Naxals might have been killed and an equal number injured as security forces retaliated strongly,” the official said.

(With inputs from PTI)