NEW DELHI — The death toll of security personnel in India’s central state of Chhattisgarh rose to 22 in clashes with armed rebels Naxals that began on Saturday, confirmed a government official on Sunday.

As many as 20 dead bodies of security personnel were recovered on Sunday, while two were recovered on Saturday.

Around 15 Naxals, including a couple of women rebels, were also gunned down and over 20 injured in the encounter that took place in a forest area near Sukma and Bijapur districts of the state, local media reported.

Besides, a total of 31 security personnel, including two senior officers, were also injured in the clashes. Some of them who were grievously injured were shifted to a government hospital in state capital Raipur.

Hindi News TV channel Aajtak quoted Chhattisgarh Director General of Police (DGP) D.M. Awasthi as saying, “two dead bodies were recovered yesterday, and 20 have been recovered today. One security person is still missing.”

Gunbattle with the Naxals continued for three to four hours on Saturday till darkness enveloped the area, he said.

According to sources, there were more than 200 Naxal rebels who ambushed the security personnel on Saturday afternoon.

Paying homage to those killed in the encounter, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted saying his thoughts were with the families of those martyred while fighting Naxals in Chhattisgarh.

“The sacrifices of the brave martyrs will never be forgotten. May the injured recover at the earliest,” he added.

Home (internal security) Minister Amit Shah also expressed condolences at the killing of the security personnel.