Nagpur: With the killings of 13 civilian persons in a short span of 37 days, police say that a group of "frustrated Naxals" is targetting civilians in Gadchiroli, in the south-east Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, due to the mounting pressure from police.

The intensity of killing was never so big in the past as only isolated incidents of killings were recorded.

Police said the outlawed Naxals are killing civilians as they are engaged in gun-battle with the security forces in and around Gadchiroli forests, right up to the Chhattisgarh border, and are unable to cope up with the mounting pressure from the men in khakhi.

 "The villagers and tribals are easy prey, as Naxals accuse them of being police informers and kill them mercilessly. The age of the victims is between 18 and 35 years. On a couple of occasions, Naxals first killed the victim with some sharp weapon and later pumped bullets, to demonstrate their brutality," a top official informed on the condition of anonymity.

It all started on June 4, when they first beheaded a person in Etapalli taluka. Since then they are on a killing spree in Etapalli, Kurpheda, Dhanora and Aheri taluka.

Naxals have a presence in almost all the taluka places (forests) in Chamorshi and Bhamragarh and most killings took place in Kasansur and Murumgaon area, police said.

However, the present killings are being called unjust and there is no provocation either by security forces or the poor tribals. Police sources also attribute a rise in the killings of
innocent people to that of elimination of their Commander Nagesh in early April in an encounter in Khobramendha village.

One CRPF jawan was killed and five district policemen were injured and five naxals were killed in the encounter.

Paramilitary forces swooped it on the Naxals, when they were waiting to ambush a police party on the road. Forces thwarted their plan, which came as a major setback to the

Top police officers from Gadchiroli were not available for comments due to some ongoing operations, police said.