Ten jawans of an armed battalion from Mizoram deputed for anti-Naxalite operations in Raipur and two civilians died in a powerful landmine blast triggered by Maoists near Konta in the insurgency-hit south Bastar's Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh on Thursday afternoon.
All were returning to Konta after some purchases from the weekly local market at Banda, about 570 kms from the state capital Raipur, when the ill-fated private jeep they were traveling in was blown to pieces by the explosion.
In November alone, 26 security personnel and 10 civilians were killed by the left wing ultras in hypersensitive southern districts of Bastar, taking the toll to 36.
Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range) RK Vij told the
that the Maoists had intensified their attacks in the Dantewada and Bijapur districts to create terror among the masses and strengthen the confidence and morale of their armed cadres.
"We have recovered all the bodies and security forces have been pressed into a intensive search operation in the area," the IG said.
The Naxals who detonated the blast also looted arms, including seven AK-47 rifles, before escaping. The jawans killed in the blast were posted at Banda base camp. The civilians included the driver of the vehicle and an unidentified boy.
The police said the explosion was so powerful that the dead and mutilated bodies were traced in the vicinity of 300 to 400 metres from the blast site.
State Chief Minister Raman Singh and Leader of the Opposition Mahendra Karma condemned the attack and said such cowardly acts by the Naxals would not weaken the morale of the security forces.
The Mizo force is also referred to as a paramilitary force. The personnel have been deputed to Chhattisgarh under an agreement signed between the states of Chhattisgarh and Mizoram.