Raipur, March 13 : At least nine CRPF personnel were killed and two injured in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district on Tuesday, in one of the deadliest attacks by the Maoist rebels on security forces this year.
The incident took place around 12.30 p.m. when the Maoists blew up an anti-landmine vehicle of Central Reserve Police Force’s (CRPF) 212 Battalion along the 5-km under-construction Kistaram-Palodi road by using an over 50 kg Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
The blast was followed by a heavy exchange of fire between the security forces and the Maoists in which the rebels also suffered a severe blow, said Inspector General of Police, Bastar, Vivekanand Sinha.
The CRPF personnel were on routine patrolling and going towards a newly-opened post in Palodi in Kishtaram when the Maoists set off the IED. The attack came about a year after dozens of CRPF personnel were killed in similar ambush in Sukma district.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh termed the incident “deeply distressing” and asked the CRPF Director General Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar to go to the site.
“Today’s IED blast in Sukma, Chhattisgarh is deeply distressing. I bow to each and every security personnel who attained martyrdom while serving the nation. My heartfelt condolences to the families of those personnel who lost their lives in Sukma blast.
“I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured jawans. I spoke to DG @crpfindia regarding the Sukma incident and asked him to leave for Chhattisgarh,” Rajnath Singh said in a tweet.
The Home Minister spoke to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh who briefed him about the incident, and steps taken for the treatment of the injured CRPF personnel. Raman Singh also condemned the attack and sought a full report over the incident.
Meanwhile, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said the attack on CRPF troops reflected a deteriorating internal security situation under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
“The Maoist attack in Sukma, Chhattisgarh in which 9 CRPF jawans lost their lives is tragic. It reflects a deteriorating internal security situation due to flawed policies,” tweeted Gandhi.
“My condolences to the families of those killed. To those who have been injured, I wish a speedy recovery,” he added.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also expressed her deep sadness over the attack and extended her condolences to their families.
“Deeply saddened at the news coming from Sukma. Lives of at least nine CRPF jawans lost. My heartfelt homage to all the martyrs. Strength to their families. Jai Hind,” she tweeted.
Those killed in the incident have been identified as Assistant Sub-Inspector Ramakrishna Singh Tomar, Head Constable Laxman and Constables Ajay Kumar Yadav, Manoranjan Lenka, Jitendra Singh, Sobit Kumar Sharma, Manoj Kumar Singh, Dharmendra Yadav and Chandra H.S. The injured are Madan Kumar and Rajesh Kumar.
CRPF’s Deputy Inspector General M. Dinakaran said an shootout took place between the CRPF and the Maoist in Sukma around 8 a.m. on Tuesday but the Left-wing ultras fled after the force retaliated.
“Again at 12.30 p.m. the Maoists targeted another team of 212 CRPF Battalion. Our 11 troopers were travelling in an anti-landmine vehicle when the Maoist blew up an IED,” Dinakaran said.
The injured troopers airlifted to Raipur, he said, adding a large force has been sent to the spot to find out if there was more landmines in the area.
The attack took place around three km away from a CRPF camp.
This is the third major incident in the area in the past one year. Twelve CRPF personnel were killed on March 11 last year in the Bheji area of Sukma district when the Maoists ambushed their patrol party. Later, a group of over 300 Maoists on April 24 again attacked a CRPF road opening party in the district, killing twenty-five personnel of the paramilitary force.