Targeting security personnel for the second time within 24 hours, Maoist rebels blew up an anti-landmine vehicle, using powerful explosives, killing 10 security personnel and injuring three others at Gatam near Katekalyan in the Naxalite hotbed of Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh.
“Seven Special Police Officers (SPOs) and three constables are among the dead. Three injured constables have already been shifted to the district hospital at Jagdalpur’, Additional Director General of Police (Anti-Naxal operations) Ramniwas confirmed this morning.
The incident took place around midnight when the security personnel were travelling in anti-landmine vehicles towards Katekalyan to assemble there and to proceed for a search operation. While one anti-landmine vehicle passed through the same route earlier, the vehicle followed it was hit by the powerful landmine and was badly damaged. As the security personnel came out of the vehicle, the rebels opened indiscriminate fire at the security personnel, who could not retaliate.
Seven Special Police officers (SPOs) — local youth recruited on honorarium basis to assist the security personnel in logistics and other for other help — and two constables were killed on the spot. While one of them succumbed to his injuries on the way to hospital, three other constables were battling for life at the district hospital.
Dantewada district Superintendent of Police Ankit Garg visited the hospital and met the injured in the early morning on Friday. Bodies of all the slain security personnel were brought to Jagdalpur, divisional headquarters of Bastar division.
The victims have been identified as Constables Ratiram Mourya, Surendra (driver) and lachchu and SPOs Murraram, Gajendra Thakur, Itwari Kadkki, Sunil Karma, Chandan, Yogesh and Sukhlal. Constables Balkrishna Yadav, Raghu and Balram are undergoing treatment at the hospital.
The attack on security personnel in Dantewada came within a day after the rebels killed five security personnel early on Thursday morning in neighbouring Narayanpur district. The rebels fired at the security personnel when they had gone to the fields near their camp and later looted an AK 47 assault rifle and an SLR from their possession.
After the massacre of 76 security personnel, including 75 from the CRPF, in April last year, the Naxalites were lying low in Bastar for the last one year, without indulging in mass killings. During this period, the rebels were only targeting security personnel in small groups and local villagers whom they accuse of being police informers.
During this period, the rebels also shifted their focus to newer areas, outside Bastar, with an aim to spread their base in areas close to state capital in Raipur and Mahasamund district. Intelligence reports confirm that there have been formations of new Naxal committees on Chhattisgarh-Orissa Border (COB). While the Orissa police had recovered a leaflet mentioning Mahasamund-Bargarh divisional committee, the Naxalites had killed nine policemen, including an additional superintendent of police, near a village in Orissa, close to the inter-state border with Chhattisgarh last month.