Naxalite guerillas on Monday ambushed a police party and killed 12 cops and a civilian in Chhattisgarh’s Dhamtari district, around 150 km from Raipur. Another 12 policemen were injured.
This is the first Naxal attack in Dhamtari and has taken the state police by surprise.
According to A.N. Upadhyaya, IG, Bastar Range, about 150 heavily armed Naxalites triggered landmine blasts on the route of the three-vehicle convoy that was carrying 41 policemen. They then opened fire from the nearby Risgaon-Mandgiri hillocks, killing 12 security personnel.
Seven seriously wounded policemen were airlifted to Raipur and admitted to a private nursing home.
Additional forces have been rushed to the area.
This is second major Naxal attack over the past five days. On May 6, they had killed 11 people in south Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada. And Monday’s attack takes the 2009 death toll in Naxalite attacks in the state to 77, including 51 security personnel.
The police have succeeded in gunning down only 41 rebels.
DIG (Intelligence) Pawan Deo told HT that the police party was on a combing mission as intelligence inputs had pointed to a large Naxal presence in the area.
In an indirect admission that the policemen were not following the basic rules of counter-insurgency operations, he added: “Perhaps it was a tactical mistake on our part that led to the attack.”
Senior police officials also admitted that the Naxalites may have lured the police party into a trap.
Chief Minister Raman Singh had, only two days ago, convened a high-level meeting and directed the state home department and top police officials to chalk out strategy to combat the Naxals.