SUKMA: The bloody scene at the ambush site near Burkapal in Sukma suggests the fierceness of the gunfight between the CRPF personnel and the outlawed CPI (Maoist) on Monday, that left 25 CRPF jawans dead and 8 others injured.
Blood on the ground and rocks, bullet holes on tree barks, water bottles, uniform hats, soiled bandanas soaked in blood lying near shoes of the security personnel. Explosive-tipped arrows, empty grenade shells, bullets recovered along the "ideal" ambush stretch extending to about a kilometer, suggests the level of preparation by the Red brigade who engaged in an aggressive battle using modern weapons .
The spot is spread with tall wild bushes and small trees reducing visibility beyond 50 metres. Senior officials of Bastar zone and the CRPF, who examined the area to assess what went wrong, concluded that “it was a well-planned attack by the ultras”.
Additional forces have been deployed in the region to carry out intensified search operations. “The Maoists seems to have gathered enough inputs and forced the villagers to act as human shields and to play the role of informers,” CRPF DIG D K Upadhyay in south Bastar said.
The officials have not ruled out that Maoists disguised as villagers had observed the forces’ movement in the region for days before they chose to launch an attack on Monday.
“Maoists in the garb of villagers engaged themselves in collecting tendu leaves and mahua flowers as they closely watched the activities of the forces,” a senior officer said.
The road opening party (ROP) personnel on Monday split into two groups on either of the road on which they were to ensure protection. The Maoist’s military wing -- People's Liberation Guerrilla Army-- ambushed a unit of 36 men on the side and trapped the troopers from three sides.
“The rebels took on the forces with over a hundred explosive-tipped arrows. Simultaneously they lobbed over 50 hand grenades and opened indiscriminate fire with modern weapons,” Upadhyay said.
The rebels placed the villagers who might be jan militia in front and kept forces engaged with gunfire at various points along the 500-metre stretch restricting the other unit, the official said.
The impact of the attack was such that the forces had no time to take defensive positions and retaliate.
“The rebels took the advantage of firing from the trees and other elevated spots. One of the rebels mounted a light machine gun on the tree and targeted our men”, CRPF jawans searching the area told the New Indian Express.
The Maoists stole 13 AK-47 rifles, 3 INSAS assault rifles and 3 Light Machine Guns (LMG) from the dead CRPF men. In the last few years Maoists have changed their tactics to target ROPs, which appears to be an easy target for the guerrillas.
The Maoist often look for soft targets and attack when they find the enemy at a weak spot, opined guerrilla warfare expert Brigadier (Rtd) B K Ponwar.
The Maoist commander Hidma and his group is suspected to have carried out the attack. Hidma, a hardcore member of south Bastar divisional committee of CPI (Maoist), and heads the battalion number one of the rebel's military wing.