Security forces on Thursday killed at least eight Maoists, including four women, in a fierce encounter in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district, a senior police official said. A cache of firearms, including two Insas rifles, was recovered from the encounter site.

The gunbattle took place around 6 am in a forest area near Timinar and Pusnar villages along the boundary of Bijapur and Dantewada districts, Deputy Inspector General of Police (anti-Maoist operations) Sundarraj P said.

Acting on a tip-off, a joint team of the District Reserve Guard and the Special Task Force launched the operation from Dantewada on Wednesday in the forest area, he said.

While the security men were cordoning off the forest areas in Timinar and Pusnar villages in Bijapur, around 450 km from the state capital Raipur, an exchange of fire broke out between the two sides on Thursday, he said.

The gunbattle lasted for about two hours, following which the Maoists fled into the core forest area, the DIG said. "After guns fell silent, bodies of seven Maoists, including three women, were initially recovered from the spot," he said.

Later, one more body of a woman Maoist was found, the DIG said. Two Insas rifles, two .303 rifles, a 12 bore gun and a few muzzle-loading guns were also recovered, he said.

More details would be known when security forces return to their camp, he added.