Five security personnel were killed and seven injured after armed Maoists blew up a military vehicle in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district, in the fourth rebel attack in three days in the strife-torn Bastar zone.
Armed guerrillas triggered a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) carrying over 50 kg of explosives that tossed an anti-landmine vehicle (Mine Protected Vehicle) carrying 12 Chhattisgarh Armed Force jawans in the air, police said.
The rebels fled into a jungle after the blast and opened fire on the vehicle that was engaged in a search operation in the region, officials added.
“The death toll has risen to five and all the critically injured CAF jawans have been air-lifted to Raipur for immediate medical treatment,” said Dantewada superintendent of police Kamal Lochan Kashyap.
Hours before, a Border Security Force (BSF) jawan was killed in an exchange of fire between Maoists and security forces at Pakhanjur in the state’s insurgency-hit Kanker district.
Video: Maoists blow up security vehicle in Chhattisgarh, 4 policement killed
The rebels opened fire on the BSF squad which was patrolling for 'camp security' early Monday morning, the Kanker superintendent of police Jitendra Meena said.
"A body of a Maoist fighter has been recovered from the site,” he added.
This is the latest in a string of attacks tactically undertaken by the Red brigade that has targeted security forces in Kanker and Dantewada districts, separated by about 200 km, in the last three days.
The Maoists often register their presence by violent attacks that are crucial to their programme of recruiting new cadre but experts also point out the recent attacks were also a result of poor planning and lapses by security forces.
On Saturday, seven jawans of the special task force were killed at Pidmel in Sukma district and 10 injured. The next day, Maoists torched 18 vehicles engaged in mining work in Kanker district, 140 km south of Raipur, but no one was hurt.
Chief minister Raman Singh condemned the strike but the opposition Congress blamed his government for the recent spate of attacks, saying the state hadn’t learnt from previous mistakes.
“The resources provided to the state government and huge forces allotted to the state are not being effectively utilised. The anti-Maoist approach should be reviewed”, former chief minister Ajit Jogi said.
The Maoists are believed to be present in at least 20 states, but are the most active in Chhattisgarh, and have waged war on government and security forces for nearly four decades and say they are fighting for the rights of the tribal people and rural poor.
The guerrillas collect funds through extortion and protection rackets and claim to have certain districts under their control “liberated zone”, mostly under the umbrella of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), the largest left-wing extremist organisation in the country.