Suspected Maoist rebels triggered a powerful landmine blast in Chhattisgarh yesterday, killing seven policemen, in the latest attack in the restive region, the central state’s police chief said.
A truck carrying the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officers hit the landmine as it travelled through forested and remote Dantewada district, some 350km south of state capital Raipur.
“Seven jawans (officers) of the CRPF were killed,” Chhattisgarh Director General of Police A N Upadhyay said.
The rebels looted the truck of weapons after exploding the mine which left a large crater in the road, police said.
It was the biggest attack by Maoists in Chhattisgarh in recent months.
The dead security personnel were in civilian clothes and were returning to their base after a holiday, police officials said.
“It was a massive blast. The vehicle flew several feet up in the air and then landed on the ground in four pieces,” a police officer said.
Police officials who rushed to the scene within 45-50 minutes said the CRPF men were unarmed.
Local tribals who first got access to the blast site and tipped off police about the attack said the bodies of the CRPF men were beyond recognition.
Chief Minister Raman Singh denounced the killings and called it “a clear sign of frustration among Maoists who are feeling the heat of increased police presence in their strongholds.
“I salute the supreme sacrifice of the seven CRPF men. The attack has strengthened my resolve to weed out Maoism from the state,” he said in Raipur.
Dozens of heavily armed paramilitary troopers launched an operation to track down the insurgents who reportedly slipped into nearby forests after the bloodbath.
Officials at the Chhattisgarh police headquarters here dubbed the attack “a classic case of failed intelligence network” in the Maoist heartland of Bastar which includes Dantewada district.
Home Minister Ajay Chandrakar presided over an emergency meeting of top police and home department officials in Raipur to assess the situation.
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