Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday condoled the death of 17 security personnel who were ambushed in a Maoist attack in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh. At least 17 soldiers were killed and 14 others injured in the attack on Saturday.

“I am deeply anguished by the death of security personnel in Sukma. I offer my respects to the brave jawans who laid their lives in security of the nation,” Singh said in a tweet in Hindi.

Bodies of 17 security personnel, who had been declared missing after an encounter with Maoists on Saturday in the jungles of Minpa in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh, were recovered later on Sunday. Officials called it the biggest Maoist attack on security forces since the attack in Sukma in 2017 when 24 CRPF personnel, part of a road opening party, were killed.

In a major joint offensive on Saturday, separate teams of nearly 600 personnel belonging to the District Reserve Guard (DRG), Special Task Force (STF) and Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) launched an anti-Maoist operation from three sides towards Elmagunda after getting inputs about a huge gathering of ultras there. When the patrolling teams were near Minpa village forests, a group of around 250 heavily armed Maoists ambushed them.