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Mumbai: Suspected Maoists shot dead three villagers Tuesday in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district on suspicion that their tip-off to police led to killing of 40 ultras in a massive operation in the region last year, a police official said. Armed naxals from Chhattisgarh entered Kasnasur village near Kosfundi phata in Bhamragad taluka, around 950 kms from here in the early hours, and went to the houses of Malu Madavi, Kanna Madavi and Lalsu Kudyeti, a police official said.

The ultras dragged them outside their houses and shot them dead, he said. The official said the Maoists suspected that the trio had tipped the police about their presence in forests which resulted into the Kasnur-Tumirgunda operation in this east Maharashtra district in April last year.

While leaving the village, Maoists put up a banner stating that they were avenging the April 2018 deaths of their comrades, he said. Police forces have been rushed to Bhamragad, which is located on borders of Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, he said, adding that further investigation is underway.

The official said Tuesday’s incident was the first attack on villagers in Gadchiroli district after Maoist Nambala Keshav Tao alias Basavraju took over from Ganapathy, a top leader of the naxal movement. Shailesh Balkawade, Superintendent of Police, Gadchiroli told PTI that the villagers gunned down by the ultras were not police informers.

A group comprising about 60 Maoists of “Bhamragad Dalam” was behind these killings, he said, adding that it was an act of frustration.He said police had gained a decisive upper hand in the fight against the Naxal menace in the area and 50 ultras had been eliminated in the past one year. He said local villagers were firmly behind the police despite Naxal threats and, on several occasions, had destroyed posters put up by the proscribed outfit.

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