Maoist blast kills seven CRPF troopers

Dantewada (Chhattisgarh): Seven CRPF troopers were killed on Wednesday when Maoists used concealed explosives to destroy their truck in a remote part of Chhattisgarh, police said.

The improvised explosive device (IED) used in the attack was so powerful that it sent the vehicle in which the troopers were travelling flying several feet high in the air and created a huge crater.

The Central Reserve Police Force personnel died instantly, their bodies blown apart in the deafening blast on a newly-repaired road at Malewara in Dantewada district, about 400 km south of capital Raipur.

It was the biggest attack by Maoists in Chhattisgarh in recent months.

The dead security personnel were in civilian clothes and were returning to their base after a holiday, police officials said.

“It was a massive blast. The vehicle flew several feet up in the air and then landed on the ground in four pieces,” Director General of Police D.M. Awasthi told the media.

The CRPF personnel belonged to the 230th battalion.

Police officials who rushed to the spot within 45-50 minutes said the deceased were unarmed.

Local tribals who first got access to the blast site and tipped off police about the incident said the bodies of the CRPF men were beyond recognition as their body organs were found strewn several metres from the attack site.

Chief Minister Raman Singh denounced the killings and called it “a clear sign of frustration among Maoists who are feeling the heat of increased police presence in their strongholds.

“I salute the supreme sacrifice of the seven CRPF men. The attack has strengthened my resolve to weed out Maoism from the state,” he said in Raipur.

Initial probe indicated that five to nine Maoists executed the blast for which excess of 40 kg of explosives could have been used to rattle the mini truck.

Dozens of heavily armed paramilitary troopers launched an operation to track down the insurgents who reportedly slipped into nearby forests after the bloodbath.

Officials at the Chhattisgarh Police headquarters here dubbed the attack “a classic case of failed intelligence network” in the Maoist heartland of Bastar which includes Dantewada district.

Home Minister Ajay Chandrakar presided over an emergency meeting of top police and home department officials in Raipur to assess the situation in the wake of deadly attack.