CRPF's 150 personnel, who were providing security cover to road-construction activity in Sukma, Chhattisgarh, were outnumbered by over 300 Maoists
New Delhi/Bastar: Launching their deadliest attack of the year, armed Maoist guerillas ambushed a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) patrol in guarding a road building project in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh on Monday afternoon, killing 25 personnel and seriously wounding seven.
In a second Naxal attack, three CRPF personnel were injured by Maoists in Daltonganj, Jharkhand.
The attack in Chhattisgarh took place between the villages of Chintagufa and Burkapal in Sukma district, where personnel from the CRPF’s 74th battalion were out providing security to road building projects.
CRPF headquarters in New Delhi said the attack took place at 12.30pm at Kala Pathar near Chintagufa.
“The patrol party was out on routine duty to provide security cover to the construction site. They were returning back to their camp in Burkapal, when they were ambushed by the armed cadre of the Naxals, as a result of which we lost 25 men," said a senior CRPF official on the phone from Chhattisgarh, on conditions of anonymity.
Following the ambush, CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action) teams of the CRPF were deployed as reinforcement to conduct search operations, while the injured personnel were taken to the capital Raipur.
“The seven injured personnel have been evacuated by helicopter and shifted to Raipur and taken to Ram Krishna hospital," said a CRPF spokesperson in Delhi.
One of those wounded, constable Sher Mohammed, was quoted by CRPF as saying the platoon of 150 men was outnumbered by nearly 300 Maoists in the ensuing gun-battle.
“First the Naxals sent villagers to track our location and then almost 300 of them opened fire at us. We retaliated with full force and killed several of them," Mohammed said.
The assault took place while Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh was in Delhi for the NITI Aayog governing body meet. He flew back immediately.
“The chief minister will meet with the CRPF officers and assess the ground situation," a senior official at the chief minister’s office said.
Road projects in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border are being built under the ‘Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism Affected Areas,’ which aims to construct 5,400km of roads and 126 bridges.
Contractors have been working in fear of such attacks.
“When contractors undertake road building projects, the Naxals threaten them and contractors flee the area. They don’t want to risk their lives in such situations. So our troops provide security cover to these road building projects so that development is not hampered," said Dinesh Pratap Upadhyay, deputy inspector general (Ops) of Central Reserve Police Force, Dantewada district.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh extended his condolences to the families of the soldiers.
Minister of state for home affairs Hansraj Ahir would be visiting Sukma to assess the situation.
Maoists had killed 12 CRPF personnel and injured two in Sukma district on 11 March when they ambushed a road opening party in Bheji village.
Subscribe to Mint Newsletters
* Enter a valid email
* Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.
Never miss a story! Stay connected and informed with Mint.
our App Now!!