After a brief lull, Maoists on Tuesday struck in Koraput region killing four BSF jawans in an ambush, triggering a fierce encounter for more than three hours.
Lying in wait, the Maoists blasted a landmine planted under a culvert around 7.30 am. It blew up a BSF vehicle moving in Sunki valley on NH 26 at Kauguntha and Sakarai village-junction under Pottangi police limits, 40 km from Koraput town.
Four jawans died on the spot, while two were critically injured and rushed to Visakhapatnam. Another jawan, who suffered minor injuries, was treated at Koraput hospital.
Sources said 18 BSF jawans were on their way to Visakhapatnam in three vehicles and were to be deployed in Gujarat. While the first vehicle crossed the mined culvert, the second was fired upon by Maoists, who were in large numbers. As the third vehicle with six jawans was negotiating the stretch, the Maoists detonated the landmine.
The BSF jawans, who escaped the blast, held the fort for more than an hour. The heavily armed Maoists kept firing on them from vantage points in the valley. Soon, the jawans were joined by CoBRA battalion from Sunabeda, led by SP Ashwini Kumar, and a fierce encounter took place lasting another three hours. The Maoists later made a tactical retreat and many of them have reportedly been injured. ‘’The forces did their best. Our combing operation is on and it would continue’’, DIG S D Singh told this paper.
The Maoists have possibly sneaked into neighbouring Viziaganaram district of Andhra Pradesh and the AP police have been put on alert.
This is second such incident on the same route. In 2007, a Pottangi police station jeep had narrowly escaped a landmine blast. Sources said two deceased jawans were from Uttar Pradesh and one each from Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. The incident comes days after the killing of a top Maoist leader Madhav in an encounter on August 23.
7. 30 am: Maoists blow up one of the three BSF vehicles.
■ Forces hold the fort against the heavily armed Maoists, who were raining bullets.
■ CoBRA battalion forces join the encounter forcing Maoists to retreat.
■ The incident follows the killing of top Maoist leader Madhav in an encounter on Aug 23.