Raipur: Bodies of 17 security personnel, who were missing after an encounter with naxals in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh, were found on Sunday, police said.

"Bodies of 17 security personnel were recovered by a search team and were being evacuated from forests," inspector general of police (Bastar range) Sundarraj P told news agency PTI.

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.

When the patrolling teams were near Minpa village forests, a group of around 250 heavily armed ultras ambushed them, leaving 15 personnel injured, he said. The gun battle lasted for about two-and-a-half hours, he said.

"Later, 17 personnel were found to be missing for which a search operation was launched. Today, their bodies have been recovered and the search team is on the way back,“ he said.

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.

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday condemned the killing of 17 security personnel in a naxal attack in Chhattisgarh. 

Patnaik condoled the deaths and wished for a speedy recovery of the personnel injured in the incident.

"CM@Naveen Odisha has condemned the dastardly attack on STF and DRG jawans in #Sukma, Chhattisgarh. He has expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the jawans who embraced martyrdom while fighting extremists & wishes for the speedy recovery of all injured," the chief minister's office tweeted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also tweeted condemning the incident and said that their valour will never be forgotten. 

PM’s tweet read, “Strongly condemn the Maoist attack in Sukma, Chhattisgarh. My tributes to the security personnel martyred in the attack. Their valour will never be forgotten. Condolences to the bereaved families. I pray for a quick recovery of those injured.”