Maoists raid Orissa jail, free inmates, kill four
In a daring replay of a raid in Bihar, hundreds of Maoist rebels on Friday stormed a jail in Orissa and freed about 40 prisoners after launching attacks on several police and government facilities that left four people dead.
The rebels took two senior police officials hostage during the audacious attack that was reminiscent of the storming of a jail at Jehanabad town in Bihar in November last year, during which the Maoists freed over 300 prisoners.
At about 5 am on Friday, nearly 200 armed guerrillas and many of their supporters entered the R. Udayagiri town in the southern district of Gajapati, 60 km from the district headquarter of Paralakhemundi, state police chief Suchit Das said.
The Maoists, including some women guerrillas, cut telephone lines to the small town and simultaneously attacked the local police station, a camp of the reserve armed police, a government treasury and the sub-jail. The rebels looted some weapons from the police station.
Three policemen were among the dead, while RK Mallik, sub-inspector of the police station, and Rabinarayan Sethi, the jail chief, were taken hostage by the Maoists who freed 40 prisoners including their associates.
The guerrillas also burnt records in the treasury and terrorised the area by engaging policemen in a gun battle that lasted over two hours.
While two policemen were killed in the gun battle, another died later at a hospital, a police official said.
A fourth person died when a landmine placed by the Maoists exploded while residents of R. Udayagiri were trying to clear a road on the outskirts of the town that had been blocked by the rebels with trees.
The dead man was working as a peon in the public health department. Two more people were injured in the blast.
Police suspect that three or four Maoists were killed in the gun battle, though no bodies have been recovered. Officials said the rebels could have carried away the bodies of their dead comrades.
Three prisoners freed by the Maoists reportedly returned to the jail on their own.
A senior district administrative official told IANS that when the Maoists struck, many top officials including District Collector Binod Bihari Mohanty hid in their houses.
The incident came up in the state assembly, where the opposition Congress demanded Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's resignation over the lawlessness prevailing in Orissa.
"The incident shows the health of our law and order," former chief minister JB Patnaik said. "When armed Maoists can attack several government offices in broad daylight, one can visualise the fate of the common man."
In November last year, hundreds of Maoists had stormed Jehanabad town in Bihar. They attacked a jail, a court, a police armoury, police quarters and several police stations and freed more than 300 prisoners including their comrades.