Indian police say eight villagers, including three children, have been killed in crossfire between security forces and Maoist rebels in the central state of Chhattisgarh.
The incident took place when a joint team of Central Reserve Police Forces, Chhattisgarh Armed Forces and district police raided the Edakmetta village in the Bijapur district following a tip off about the presence of Maoist rebels in the area, reports The Times of India.
“We suspect the villagers died in crossfire between security forces and the Maoists,” said Rajinder Vij, the chief of anti-Maoists operations in Chhattisgarh, adding that one policeman was also killed.
The state’s main opposition party slammed the security forces for the civilian casualties during the police action and said the victims were “deliberately targeted”. Some opposition politicians accused security forces of killing “innocent” villagers in a “fake encounter,” AFP reports.
“The villagers were preparing for a ritual in the field before the start of sowing season when they were massacred,” Congress spokesman Shailesh Nitin Trivedi said.
The Chhattisgarh state government has ordered a judicial probe into the killings, reports AFP.