MAOIST ATTACK: 24 KILLED
Maoist fighters ambushed a large CRPF patrol in Bastar, killing at least 24 troopers, policemen and a civilian in a daring daytime attack that is sure to spark fears of more such strikes ahead of and during Lok Sabha polls. They struck at a spot just 8 km from Jheeram Gathi, where top Chattisgarh Congress leaders were killed in a major attack last May.
According to survivors, more than 300 Maoists swarmed out of forests about 400km from Raipur and swooped down on a joint CRPF-police road opening party, triggering powerful blasts and firing indiscriminately. The attack took place around 11am when the team was patrolling the areas at Sukma district’s Takbada, close to a national highway, which was being repaired.
An MHA official said prima facie there appeared to have been a complete violation of the standard operating procedure as the security personnel had been taking the same route for the past couple of days.
After the ambush, the Maoists planted explosives in a soldier’s body, Inspector-General of Bastar A.D. Gautam said. But they apparently did not plant any bomb at the ambush site, as they normally do, as no explosive was recovered till evening.
Inspector-General of CRPF in Chhattisgarh H.S. Sidhu said they had not released the names of the security personnel who died as they would like to inform the families first.
All CRPF men belonged to 80 Battalion.
Rebels have been active in the area for a long time. This is the second major attack on security forces in the past fortnight. On February 28, five security personnel were killed in a Maoist attack in Dantewada.