Nagpur: At least 17 policemen were killed in Gadchiroli on Thursday when two hundred Naxals swooped down on a police post in the Lahiri area of Bhamragadh taluka in the district. The dead include one sub-inspector C S
Deshmukh and sixteen constables of the C-60 anti-Naxal force raised by Maharashtra.
The daring attack occured when a police party of nearly
40 personnel came under heavy fire from 150 to 200 naxals at
about 1pm near Laheri police station of the district when it
was returning after undertaking search operations following an
intelligence input that Maoists had assembled in the area.
Not only that, in a rerun of the beheading of a Jharkhand police
intelligence officer by the Maoists near Ranchi in a
Taliban-type action early this week, a police informer
identified as Suresh Alami met a similar fate in Gadchiroli
just before the third major naxal strike in this district.
The incident comes days before Maharashtra votes October 13 to elect a new assembly. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra said the situation was war-like and his government wouldn`t be cowed down by the attack.
About 15 naxals were
also killed, reports said.
"It is a war-like situation... we are committed to
fighting the naxals and we won`t be cowed down," Chavan said.
A rescue mission was launched as soon as report of the attack came with the government sending four helicopters to the spot and a massive manhunt has been launched to to weed out the attackers. Centre has rushed
additional paramilitary forces to the area, which was sealed so that the Naxals don’t escape the area.
IG (Nagpur) Surendra Kumar said two policemen received
bullet injuries in hand and leg and were out of danger but the
bodies of those slain were yet to be recovered.
"The retreating naxalites have felled trees to block the
advance of reinforcements. A combing operation is underway to
track down the fleeing naxalites and retrieve the bodies, but
the task is difficult given the difficult terrain and the
night," he said.
Reacting to the deadly attacks in a span of a few hours, Chavan said that the government was concerned at the sudden spurts in attacks.
He said there was no shortage of forces and that the war on Naxals would continue. Chavan also said he had discussed the situation with the Centre and the latter had promised full support to the state.
Pointing out that naxal menace was a common problem faced
by Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, Chavan said
"this is an inter-state issue and will have to be tackled
"Additional (central) forces are in Maharashtra and they
are already on way to assist the state police," Union Home
Secretary G K Pillai told news agencies.
The attack occurred barely hours after Maoists set ablaze a gram panchyat office in the area. The extremists torched the office at Ramgarh under
Purada police station and fled from the scene, they said,
quoting initial reports.
The attack coincided the Cabinet Committee of Security
(CCS) meeting presided by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New
Delhi to discuss the rise in Naxal violence.
District Collector Atul Patne told news agencies that Alami`s
severed head was found near his body as naxals had suspected
him to be a police informer.
Home Minister P Chidambaram had yesterday said the security forces will engage the Maoists till they abjure violence and the air force will take steps to protect itself from any Naxal attacks.
Among the worst-hit by Maoist violence, Gadchiroli district in eastern Maharashtra is situated around 180 km from here and 1,200 km from Mumbai. It borders Adnhra Pradesh, where the Maoist rebels had a stronghold for a long while.