Naxals blow up armoured vehicle, kill 9 CRPF jawans
Nine CRPF personnel were killed and two others injured on Tuesday when Maoists blasted the mine protected vehicle (MPV) they were travelling in using over 50 kgs of explosives in Kistaram jungle, in Chhattisgarh’s south Bastar district of Sukma.
The attack came about four hours after another CRPF team had a fierce gunbattle with about 100 Maoists, also in Sukma’s Kistaram forest in which, sources said, at least three grenades fired from Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL) failed to go off.
“All Naxals were in uniform. Initially our party thought that it is another party of CRPF… but after few minutes they realised that they were Maoists… Initially, our party fired UGBL but three grenades did not explode. Had the grenades gone off, we would have major success in the encounter”, the CRPF officer disclosed to this newspaper.
Despite that the jawans 208 CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action) battalion forced the Naxals to retreat into the nearby jungle.
“The Naxals were heard communicating on a Chinese communication set that one Naxal was killed in the incident,” the CRPF officer said.
At around 12.30 pm, the Maoists emerged again, to blow up a vehicle carrying men from CRPF’s 212 battalion.
The impact of the explosion was such that the MPV was tossed eight to ten feet in the air before it crashed on the ground, throwing many personnel out of the vehicle, officials said.
The slain include one assistant sub-inspector, one head constable and seven constables of CRPF. The injured were evacuated by a chopper to Raipur.
The CRPF men were moving from Kistaram camp to the new camp in Palodi in the MPV when Naxals triggered improvised explosive device (IED) targeting them, D.M. Awasthi, special director general, Naxal operation, said.
The blast is suspected to have been triggered by joining wires from a distance when the MPV crossed over the IED, officials said. Some of the CRPF personnel who were killed had recently returned from leave and were going to report at the new camp with their belongings and weapons, officials said.
The attack came a few hours after the IB issued an alert of a possible Maoist attack on security personnel in the area.
“The attack site is in the core area of Naxal zone, where encounters take place almost every day between Naxals and security forces. Only inputs by security forces deployed on the ground reflect the ground situation,” Mr Awasthi said.
This was the fifth attack by Maoists on CRPF personnel in Sukma district since 2010. Twelve CRPF personnel were killed on March 11 last year in the Bheji area of Sukma district and their arms looted when Naxals ambushed their patrol party. A few days later, on April 24, 25 CRPF personnel were killed in a similar ambush in Sukma. In the deadliest ever attack on security personnel by Naxals, 75 jawans of the Central paramilitary force were massacred in Chintalnar in the district on April 6, 2010. Tuesday’s attack came a day after Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh threw a challenge at the Naxals by riding pillion on a bike on Inzaram-Bhejji road, barely 40 km from the attack site.
The chief minister condemned the attack, describing it as an act of cowardice. He said that the Maoists had targeted security personnel because they are angry over the developmental work being carried out in the area. He convened an emergency meeting of senior officers and police officers to take stock of the situation and that counterinsurgency operations in Bastar be intensified. Home minister Rajnath Singh said the incident was “deeply distressing” and asked CRPF director general R.R. Bhatnagar to rush to Chhattisgarh.