New Delhi: The Naxal attack which killed 15 CRPF and state police personnel in Sukma appeared to have caught security forces by surprise as it came just a day after the expiry of a deadline following a major anti-Maoist operation which ended on March 10 in the jungles of Chhattisgarh.
Security officials said the forces were on `high alert` for six days between March 5-10 as there were intelligence inputs of armed Naxal cadres conducting an offensive against the forces in the Bastar region of the state and there were even skirmishes between the two sides in other districts in the southern part of the state like Dantewada and Narayanpur.
"All these operations were met with success and casualities on the side of Naxals were inflicted by the forces", officials said.
Both state police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) commanders mobilised their combat units for "maximum activity" during the six days but the ambush came on the seventh, they said.
However, sources said, the Naxals planned an attack on the joint forces in the early morning hours of March 11 in Sukma which was fiercely retaliated by the 48 men squad but they were fatally trapped and surrounded from two sides by the ultras along a 3-feet high `bundh` (earthen wall) area for half-a-kilometre distance.
The men at the tail-end suffered maximum casualities, they said.
Senior officials, who toured the area today for assessment of the attack, said the commander of the squad, slain CRPF Inspector Subhash Chander, would not have had much options for frequently changing the approach routes as there are not many tracks to reach the road construction area in Tongapal area which CRPF and state police was guarding.
"It was the best decision the squad commander took and there is no reason to believe he violated the procedures," a senior official said.