Monday, May 29, 2023

10 cops, civilian driver killed in Chhattisgarh Naxal attack

Ten police personnel and a civilian driver were killed after Naxals blew up a vehicle which was part of a convoy carrying security personnel in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district on Wednesday, an official said.
This was the biggest strike by the Maoists on the security forces in the state in the last two years.
The blast, carried out using an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) containing an estimated 40 kg of explosive material, took place under Aranpur police station area between 1 pm to 1:30 pm when a team of the state police’s District Reserve Guard (DRG) was out on an anti-Naxal operation, IGP (Bastar Range) Sundarraj P said.
DRG personnel are mostly recruited from local tribal population and trained to combat Maoists. Sometimes surrendered Maoists are also recruited in DRG. The area where the blast took place is around 450 km from state capital Raipur.
The Multi-Utility Vehicle (MUV) carrying ten DRG jawans was blown up between Aranpur and Sameli villages, IGP said. All ten jawans and civilian driver of the vehicle were killed on the spot, he added. MUV had been rented by the security personnel, said another official.
Reinforcement was rushed to the spot and bodies of the deceased were brought to Dantewada, IGP said. Security personnel have launched a search operation in the area, he added.
Another senior police official posted in Dantewada said that around 200 security personnel had set out from Dantewada district headquarters on Tuesday night after getting information about the presence of Maoists belonging to Darbha division in the area.
On Wednesday morning, there was an exchange of fire between the patrolling team and Naxals near Nahadi village, around seven km from Aranpur, following which two suspected Naxals were held, he said on the condition of anonymity.
Subsequently, security personnel were returning to their base in a convoy of vehicles, he said.
There was a gap of around 100-150 meters between vehicles, and the Naxals targeted the second vehicle in the convoy, he said.
After the blast, the security personnel in the leading and following vehicles took positions and opened fire on both sides of the jungle, the official said.
Visuals from the spot showed a huge crater across the road at the blast site, almost 10-feet deep. The MUV was completely destroyed while bodies covered with plastic sheets were also seen in the video.
During a search of the spot, around 150-meter long wire connected to the trigger of the command IED was recovered, the official said, adding that it seems that around 40 kg of explosive material was used.
A forensic team has reached the spot, he added.
Chhattisgarh DGP Ashok Juneja held a meeting of officials of the Anti-Naxal Operation (ANO) and State Intelligence Branch (SIB) units in Raipur to take stock of the incident.
Expressing grief over the loss of life, chief minister Bhupesh Baghel said the fight against Naxalism was in its last phase, and Naxals will not be spared under any circumstances.
Baghel, who was scheduled to leave for poll-bound Karnataka this evening for campaigning, cancelled his visit. He will attend wreath laying ceremony for the martyred jawans in Dantewada on Thursday, officials said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also condemned the attack. “Strongly condemn the attack on the Chhattisgarh police in Dantewada. I pay my tributes to the brave personnel we lost in the attack. Their sacrifice will always be remembered. My condolences to the bereaved families,” Modi tweeted.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Baghel following the incident.
“Anguished by the cowardly attack on the Chhattisgarh police at Dantewada. Have spoken to Chhattisgarh’s Chief Minister and assured all possible assistance to the state government. My condolences to the bereaved family members of the martyred Jawans,” Shah tweeted.
The deceased were identified as head constables Joga Sodi, Munna Ram Kadti, Santosh Tamo; constables Dulgo Mandavi, Lakhmu Markam, Joga Kawasi, Hariram Mandavi, and `secret police’ Raju Ram Kartam, Jairam Podiyam and Jagdish Kawasi. The driver was identified as Dhaniram Yadav. Most of the victims were residents of Dantewada district.
In the past, numerous attacks have taken place on the security forces in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, comprising seven districts including Dantewada, between March and June.
During these summer months the Maoists carry out their ‘Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign’.


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