Seventeen jawans belonging to Orissa Police were killed in a landmine blast triggered by the Maoists in Malkangiri district on Wednesday while they were travelling on the Kalimela-Motu road to clear road blockades put up by naxals.
The incident occurred near Malkangiri Village (MV)-126 while the jawans were travelling in a vehicle which was supposed to weather a landmine blast. But the impact of the explosion was so powerful that the vehicle was flung 30-40 ft in the air, killing all the cops instantly.
Orissa’s DGP Gopal C Nanda said, “Nearly 17 jawans have died. Reinforcements have reached the spot of the blast.”
Malkangiri superintendent of police Satish Gajbhiye told HT, “The jawans killed in the blast were from the Special Operations Group (SOG) and district police.” The SOG is a specialised force of Orissa Police to counter the naxals.
Some other jawans were travelling in motorcycles alongside this ill-fated vehicle, which was blown up, and they managed to escape without sustaining any casualties. The two-wheeler borne jawans were, however, immediately fired upon by the Maoists hiding near the Kalimela-Motu road and an exchange of fire was still continuing till late 8 pm.
This is the second major strike by the Maoists in Malkangiri district in as many months. On June 29, the Maoists had attacked a launch carrying nearly 60 Greyhound commandos of Andhra Pradesh in Balimela reservoir located in the same Malkangiri district. The launch sank and 38 Greyhound commandos lost their lives.
A senior cop told HT, “This strike shows that the jawans walked into a trap laid by the Maoists.