Ten security personnel were killed and three injured after Maoists blew up an anti-landmine vehicle late Thursday night at Gatam near Katekalyan in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district.
The security personnel — seven of whom were Special Police Officers (SPOs) — were killed less than 24 hours after Naxalites shot dead five Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) men in an attack on their camp in neighbouring Narayanpur district.
Additional Director General of Police (Anti-Naxal Operations) Ramniwas said the security personnel were on their way to Katekalyan to begin a search operation, when around midnight, the Naxalites triggered a powerful blast on a culvert. A large quantity of explosives was used, Ramniwas said — the anti-landmine vehicle was destroyed and the road had a large crater.
As the security personnel emerged from the wrecked vehicle, the Naxals — including, according to the account by a survivor, several women fighters — were sprayed with bullets.
Constables Ratiram Mourya, Surendra (driver) and Lachchu, and SPOs Murraram, Gajendra Thakur, Itwari Kadkki, Sunil Karma, Chandan, Yogesh and Sukhlal were killed. Constables Balkrishna Yadav, Raghu and Balram are in hospital in Raipur.
The Naxalites are currently observing their pre-monsoon “Jan pituri saptah”, during which they step up their “tactical counter-offence campaign”, or TCOC. The intention, intelligence sources said, was to demoralize security forces ahead of the rains, when both Naxal attacks and security forces operations slow down.
Police sources said another anti-landmine vehicle had passed safely over the culvert some time before the blast. A live landmine was found close by.