Targeting the Chhattisgarh police for the second time in 24 hours in Bastar zone, Maoist rebels killed 10 security personnel in a landmine explosion in Dantewada district around midnight on Thursday.
The rebels triggered the blast near Katekalyan, about 500 km south of Raipur, when the security personnel were returning in an anti-landmine vehicle after a search operation, said Bastar zone inspector general of police TJ Longkumer.
The slain personnel included eight special police officers (SPOs), local tribal youngsters recruited on honorarium basis (paid Rs 4,000 per month) to assist security forces in inhospitable forest terrain. Three SPOs were injured.Longkumer said, "The powerful blast (for which the rebels used more than 100kg of explosives) tossed up the anti-landmine vehicle carrying 13 personnel. Following the blast, the Maoists fired indiscriminately at them."
The rebels looted the weapons of the slain personnel. “We recovered some arms, but, they are of no use,” said Longkumer.
Dantewada superintendent of police Ankit Garg said this was the first time rebels had triggered a blast targeting security forces at night in Bastar zone.
“This is a new challenge for us,” he said.
“Weapons of security forces were found scattered around the blast site, where an 8-feet-deep crater gave an idea of the impact of the blast,” Garg said.
Bachloo Ram, an SPO who survived the attack and is undergoing treatment at a hospital, said after triggering the explosion, the Maoist rebels fired through the door of the anti-landmine vehicle to ensure none of the troopers remained alive.
“The attackers included women,” he told a local television news channel.
Chief minister Raman Singh strongly condemned the attack and said there was a need to change the strategy to tackle the Maoist menace.
This is the sixth rebel attack on security forces in the state in the last 25 days, during which they have killed 32.
Earlier in the day, around 5.30am, Maoist rebels killed five Chhattisgarh Armed Force personnel in Narayanpur district, about 280 km south of Raipur.
Dantewada and Narayanpur are among the districts worst affected by the Maoist violence, which has engulfed the Bastar zone.