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Maoist strikes kill 15 cops in Chhattisgarh
Published on 10 Jun. 2011 11:16 PM IST
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Within 24 hours, two separate Maoist strikes left 15 policemen dead in Chhattisgarh on Thursday. Late night at 11:30 pm in Dantewada district, Maoists triggered a powerful explosion that flung an anti landmine vehicle in the air, killing 10 of 13 policemen seated inside. Earlier, at 5:15 am, Maoists launched an attack on a newly opened police camp in Narayanpur district with light machine guns and mortars, leaving five policemen dead. Separated by 250 kilometres, both attacks displayed an adept use of explosives by the guerillas. Their combined impact left troops on the ground shaken, and brought the top brass of the police and paramilitary on a visit from the state capital.
Friday afternoon, Director General Vishwa Ranjan and other officers stared down a crater, 8 feet deep and 20 feet wide, formed at the head of a bridge, on a metal road, 30 kilometres from Dantewada towards Katekalyan, near Gatam village. “At least 70 kgs of explosives must have been planted here,” said T G Longkumer, the Bastar IG.
Some officers scrambled over the banks of the rivulet to circle the tree where the Maoists possibly sat and detonated the explosion, as the truck slowed down to cross the bridge. Others examined the charred interiors of its carcass.
CRPF’s auto engineer, S K Pandey, spent the morning trying to locate all the parts of the dismembered truck. By noon, he gave up. Four tyres were found lying in four different directions, the closest 200 metres away, and the furthest over the top of a nearby hillock. The circular roof cap was located at one end of the bridge, while splinters of the gear box at the other end. “And the engine is nowhere to be seen, it has perhaps been blasted to smithereens,” he said.
By definition, an anti landmine truck is meant to withstand the impact of an explosion. But in this case, it appeared the blast had propelled the truck at least 50 metres up in the air, which explained the extraordinary event of a tyre being flung over a hill. Those killed included two constables and eight special police officers, local adivasi recruits from Dantewada. Three survivors have been flown to Raipur for treatment.
Meawhile, in Jhara police camp in Narayanpur, two small cavities in the ground had been circled with chalk. “Two explosives landed inside the camp, four outside, fired from a mortar (a cylindrical explosive launcher)” said D K Bais, the company commander of 16 battalion of Chhattisgarh Armed Force. The explosives had been fired from 51 mortar, a new and improved version of the two inch mortar, which can fire over longer ranges with better precision, he said.
While the explosives missed target and did not cause much damage, they have alarmed the police, since this is the first time mortars have been used in an attack by Maoists. “The mortar and explosives appear to have been looted from security forces,” said Mayank Srivastava, the superintendent of police, Narayanpur.
Thursday’s attacks have only served to replenish the Maoist armoury. In Narayanpur, the Maoists snatched away an AK 47 and an INSAS rifle from two of the five dead policemen (two of the four killed outside the camp boundary were not carrying weapons, the third was a sentry who fell dead from his post inside the camp, hence his weapon remained safe).
In Dantewada, from the smouldering remains of the truck, the Maoists took away a 2 inch mortar, 4 SLR rifles , 2 INSAS rifles, and ten ammunition pouches containing 1000 rounds of bullets, said Ankit Garg, the superintendent of police.

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