RAIPUR: As many as nine CRPF personnel were killed and three others critically injured when Maoists blew up a mine protected vehicle (MPV) at Kishtaram in the strife-torn district of Sukma, some 450 km from Raipur Tuesday.
The attack is seen as an act of vengeance by the guerrillas following the heavy losses inflicted on them in the recent weeks by security forces in Bastar region and adjoining Telangana state. All the injured were air-lifted to Raipur by chopper for immediate medical care.
Maoists triggered a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) blast that tossed the anti-landmine vehicle in the air with nearly a dozen personnel of the paramilitary forces inside. The impact of the blast caused the troopers to be flung out of the mangled vehicle.
A CRPF officer on the condition of anonymity said, “It is believed that an explosive of 40-50 kg might have been used by the rebels.”
When the vehicle crashed to the ground some 15 meters away from the blast site, the rebels sprayed bullets on the vehicle and then fled into the nearby forest.
The deceased personnel have been identified as ASI RKS Tomar and constable Jitendra Singh from Madhya Pradesh, constable Shobit Sharma, Dharmendra Yadav and Manoj Singh from Uttar Pradesh, constable Chandra HS from Karnataka, head constable Laxman from Rajasthan, constable Ajay Kumar Yadav from Bihar and constable Manoranjan Lakda from Odisha.
The Special DG (anti-Maoist operation) D M Awasthi said, “Nine CRPF jawans were killed. Choppers were pressed into action to bring a couple of critically injured jawans and the deceased personnel to Raipur. The cordon and search operations have been intensified in the area with additional forces deployed in the region.”
Barely two days ago the chief minister Raman Singh visited the area under his annual Lok Suraj Abhiyan and personally inspected the quality of road construction works from Bhejji-Injaram in Sukma.
The CM condemned the attack and said, “It’s a cowardly act. The Naxals are frustrated and on the defensive owing to the success of the aggressive anti-Maoist operation and other development initiatives. They now fear it will break their backbone”.
On March 11, 2017, 37 CRPF men were killed in the two separate Maoist ambush following which the union home minister Rajnath Singh called a high-level meeting of the chief ministers and top officials of 10 Maoist-affected states to pursue a renewed aggressive strategy against the Naxalites.