India’s Maoist Rebels Kill 73 Police In Worst-Ever AttackApril 6, 2010
Seventy-three security personnel were killed on Tuesday when over 700 Maoist guerrillas in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region ambushed a 120-member contingent of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) by first bombing and then opening fire.
In what is one of the biggest Maoist attacks in the country, the guerrillas triggered multiple blasts and then fired indiscriminately at the CRPF team in the Chintalnar forested hamlet of Dantewada district, about 450 km south from here, in violence-hit Bastar.
More than two dozen personnel were injured.
According to Dantewarda Superintendent of Police Amaresh Mishra, the dead included 72 troopers from the 62nd battalion of the CRPF and one state police officer.
“A massive contingent of heavily armed Maoists ambushed a CRPF team in a hilly stretch. They first triggered blasts from all directions and followed by indiscriminate firing,” Vishwa Ranjan, director general of police, told IANS.
He said it seemed to be a meticulously planned attack. A chopper has been sent from Jagdalpur, headquarters of Bastar district, to move the injured troopers to hospital. A strong contingent of state police force has also been rushed to the site.
In New Delhi, a shocked Home Minister P. Chidambaram said the CPRF personnel massacred in Chhattisgarh seemed to have walked into a Maoist trap.
“Something has gone very wrong,” a sombre Chidambaram told reporters outside his office here. “They seem to have walked into a trap set by the Naxalites (Maoists). Casualties are very high. I am deeply shocked.”
“But this shows the savage nature of the CPI-Maoist, the brutality and savagery they are capable of. Senior officers have gone to the area. I await a report from them,” he said, referring to the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist
A counter terrorism expert posted in Dantewada disclosed on the condition of anonymity that the CRPF men had flouted guerilla warfare guidelines and rushed to an interior location to track down insurgents in a vehicle.
This, he said, was totally “disallowed” for search and combing operations in the vast interiors of the Maoist stronghold of Bastar which is riddled with landmines.
“There is a clear-cut instruction for paramilitary men as well as state police force to not use vehicles for any kind of offensive in forested interiors. They are to go only on foot and also not in groups but in two-three members squad. On Tuesday, the CRPF men grossly neglected warfare manuals and finally paid the price,” he said.
The attack has been seen as a retaliation to Chhattisgarh government’s famed anti-Maoist drive Operation Green Hunt, launched in July 2009 that has killed 90 Maoists till date.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, who convened an emergency meeting of senior officials, labelled it an act of “cowardice”. Home Minister Nankiram Kanwar said it was the result of “intelligence failure”.
Chhattisgarh’s mineral rich Bastar region spread out in about 40,000 sq km is made up of five districts – Bijapur, Kanker, Narayanpur, Bastar and Dantewada. It has witnessed a string of deadly attacks since year 2005 that have claimed over 1,600 lives.
Something must have gone drastically wrong, says Chidambaram
New Delhi: Home Minister P Chidambaram said on Tuesday that something must have gone “drastically” wrong in Chhattisgarh where a CRPF patrol during Operation Green Hunt came under naxal attack.
“The casualty is very high and I am deeply shocked at the loss of lives…This shows the savage nature of CPI(Maoist) and their brutality and the savagery they are capable of. Senior officials will be reaching their shortly,” he said.
“Government of Chattisgarh and CRPF together had planned this operation. They had mobilised both the state forces and the CRPF but something has gone drastically wrong. They seem to have walked into a trap set by naxalites,” he said.
Chidamabaram said he was very “sorry” for those who lost their lives in the attack.
In one of the biggest setbacks to ‘Operation Green Hunt’, at least 40 CRPF personnel, including a Deputy Commandant, were killed when Naxals ambushed them in the Mukrana forests of the Dantewada district in Chattisgarh today morning.
TAKEN BY SURPRISE
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the Maoists as the gravest threat to India’s internal security.
The rebels number between 6,000 and 8,000 hardcore fighters in nearly a third of the country’s 630 districts. Each year they extort more than $300 million from companies, the government says.
Tuesday’s attack echoed a similar ambush in February, when Maoists caught police offguard in a daylight attack on in the state of West Bengal, killing at least two dozen police.
Maoists have stepped up attacks in response to a police offensive that began late last year in several states, which Indian officials say has for the first time weakened the decades-old movement.
Maoists, who say they are fighting for the rights of poor farmers and landless laborers, are trying to expand their influence in east, central and southern India.
Thousands have been killed in the insurgency which began in the late 1960s.
On Sunday, rebels triggered a land mine blast that killed ten police in the mineral-rich eastern state of Orissa.
Following is the chronology of major recent Naxal attacks in the country
July 16, 2008: 21 policemen killed when a police van was blown up in a landmine blast in Malkangiri district of Orissa.
June 29: Maoists attack a boat on Balimela reservoir in Orissa carrying four anti-Naxalite police officials and 60 Greyhound commandos, killing 38 troops.
Oct 8, 2009: 17 policemen killed when Maoists ambushed them at Laheri police station in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra.
Sep 30: Naxalites set ablaze Gram Panchayat offices at Korchi and Belgaon in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra.
Sep 26: Naxals kill BJP MP from Balaghat Baliram Kashyap’s sons at Pairaguda village in Jagdalpur (Chhattisgarh).
Sep 4: Naxals kill four villagers in a forest in Aaded village in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district.
Jul 31: A special police officer and another person killed by Naxals in Bijapur district.
July 27: Six persons killed when Naxals trigger a landmine blast at Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh.
July 23: A 40-year-old tribal killed by Naxalites at Ettapalli taluka in Gadchiroli district.
July 18: Naxalites kill a villager in Bastar and in a separate incident torch a vehicle engaged in road construction work in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh.
June 23: A group of motorcycle-borne armed Naxal rebels open fire on Lakhisarai district court premises in Bihar and free four of their comrades including the self-style Zonal Commander of Ranchi.
June 16: Maoists kill 11 police officers in a landmine attack followed by armed assault. In a separate attack, four policemen were killed and two others seriously injured when Maoists ambush them at Beherakhand in Palamau district.
June 13: Naxals launch two landmine and bomb attacks in a small town close to Bokaro, killing 10 policemen and injuring several others.
June 10: Nine policemen, including CRPF troops and officers, ambushed by Maoists during a routine patrol in Saranda jungles in Jharkhand.
May 22: Maoists kill 16 policemen in the jungles of Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra.
April 22: Maoists hijack a train with at least 300 people on board in Jharkhand and force it to Latehar district before fleeing.
April 13: 10 paramilitary troops killed in eastern Orissa when Maoists attack a bauxite mine in Koraput district.
Feb 15, 2010: 24 personnel of the Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) killed as Maoists attack their camp in Silda in West Midnapore district of West Bengal.
April 4, 2010: Maoists triggered a landmine blast killing 11 security personnel of the elite anti-naxal force Special Operations Group (SOG) in Koraput district of Orrisa.