New Delhi: Naxals ambushed a Chhattisgarh Police patrol party and media persons in Aranpur in Dantewada district on Tuesday, killing two police personnel and a Doordarshan cameraperson, just days before the state goes to polls.

The attack comes just two days after Naxals ambushed a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) vehicle in Bijapur district, killing four CRPF personnel. The Naxals have also called for a boycott of assembly elections to be held in two phases on 12 and 20 November for all 90 seats.

The centre said the situation had become particularly volatile in the state, with Naxals now targeting all stakeholders associated with the polls, including the media.

“Things will only go from bad to worse as the elections draw closer. The Naxals have broken away from their regular practice of not attacking the media and have now gunned down a media person in cold blood. We are keeping a very close watch on the situation and will provide whatever assistance is needed," said a senior Union home ministry official, on condition of anonymity.

The threat of Naxal violence looms large over Chhattisgarh, where a group of Naxals ambushed and wiped out the entire state Congress leadership in 2013, during an election rally close to Jagdalpur.

Chief minister Raman Singh said on Tuesday Naxals aimed to spread terror.

Earlier this month, Singh said that all candidates who were contesting had been told of the risks, as Naxalism had begun flaring up in the state’s volatile areas such as Sukma, Dantewada, Bijapur and Narayanpur.

The attack comes two days after Naxals ambushed a CRPF vehicle in Bijapur district, killing four CRPF personnel-

“The Naxals always carry out a big operation during every election and they protest against every election, whether it is the panchayat election, state elections or the general elections. They are against any process that is democratically carried out. This time also, there will be opposition from them and we go by the assumption that their activities go up during elections. So, it is important to be more cautious," Singh said in Raipur.

Tuesday’s attack occurred at Nilawaya, a few kilometers off Aranpur, at 11.20am. The Naxals ambushed the police party to try and derail a road construction project in the area. Media persons got caught in the crossfire, senior state police officials said in Dantewada.

“Today’s (Tuesday) ambush was to target the road construction work in Dantewada’s Aranpur. More anti-Naxal operations will be conducted in the coming days. After the incident, 8-10 IEDs (improvised explosive devices) have been recovered from the area and have been defused," said DM Awasthi, special director general, anti-Naxal operations, Dantewada.

The Dantewada-Aranpur route is an arterial corridor connecting south Bastar and is pivotal for access to the Bacheli iron-ore mines located off Aranpur in Akashnagar.

The state police added that Tuesday’s attack would not be allowed to hamper the electoral process.

“This is a pressure tactic by the Naxals to subvert democracy and we should not give it too much importance. We need to carry on with our task as usual," said Gurmeet Kanwal, fellow at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.

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