At least seven persons were killed in a landmine blast by suspected CPI (Maoist) armed squads in Khudwan on the forested stretch of Aranda region under Obra block of Aurangabad district, 120km south of Patna, on Thursday evening.
Villagers in the hamlets around the site of the incident told HT that seven bodies had been found near the wreckage of the Tata Safari vehicle in which the victims were travelling at the time of the attack. Police were yet to reach the spot, some 41km north of the district headquarters and 15km west of Obra in south Bihar.
Relatives of the victims said the Maoists triggered the blast near Pathra crossing that comes under Khudwan police station.
The attack appears to be well-planned as the landmine had been planted in the midst of the road and blasted as soon as the vehicle passed over it at around 6 pm. The place that they were targeted at has never had police deployment.
Among the killed were Aurangabad district councillor Usha Devi's husband Sushil Pandey, a former Ranveer Sena 'commander' who had also been to jail for some time in connection with a murder case.
Sushil Pandey's uncle Ashok Pandey has identified other victims as Yogendra Pandey, Ram Subhash Pandey, Pappu Pandey, Manish Pandey, Ram Pravesh Pandey and Ram Vallabh Upadhyaya.
Police said Sushil Pandey was a well-known personality of the area and well-heeled, who had a running war with Maoists in the area for over 17 years.
The victims had been to Obra bazaar and were returning to their village Pishay when the landmine blast was triggered by Maoists. Police said Usha Devi and Sushil Pandeyhad been on the Maoists' hit list of for a long time.
District headquarters control room said the superintendent of police and the two DSPs had left for the spot with a CRPF CoBRA detachment and more reinforcements were being called up to scour the area.
In Patna, director general of police, Abhayanand said, "Additional reinforcements have been sent but the nature of the operations is still to be defined."