Another Naxal strike in Dantewada; civilians among 36 killed

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 - 00:19

Raipur: Striking with impunity, Naxals on Monday blew up a civilian bus in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh killing at least 36 people, including 12 Special Police Officers, the second attack in six weeks.

Police said 36 bodies have been recovered. At least 14 were injured, seven of them seriously.

The private commercial bus ferrying passengers from
Dantewada to Sukma was blown up between Gadiras and Bhusaras
near Chingavaram village, about 450 kms from here, with the
Naxals detonating Improvised Explosive Device with gelatin
sticks planted on the metalled road.

The bus, which left Dantewada at 2.00 pm, was targeted at
4.45 pm after the Naxals got to know through their
intelligence network that SPOs were on the bus. Some of the
SPOs were also said to be travelling on the rooftop of the
bus.

The passenger bus was completely mangled with its front
portion squeezed into a steel ball. Several bodies, which were
brought out from the bus, were mutilated.

The bodies of SPOs with INSAS rifles,
civilians with their belongings, slippers and clothes were
scattered around the site. Police officials at the scene said
that some of the bodies were perched on trees.

State police chief Viswa Ranjan said about 100 SPOs had
gone to Dantewada on May 15 for an anti-Naxal operation. Some
of them returned by the bus. Under the Standard Operation
Procedures, the security personnel have been advised not to
use civilian vehicles.

CRPF Special Director General Vijay Raman had earlier
said that the toll could be 50 seeing the magnitude of the
explosion.

SPOs are mostly local people recruited to fight the
Maoists and have emerged as the biggest threat to them.

Strongly condemning the attack, Union Home Minister P
Chidambaram said the Centre will have to re-look at its
strategy deal with the Left Wing extremists.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh said he would
urge Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to re-examine the strategy
to tackle the Naxal menace, who were targeting innocent
civilians.

While this is the first such attack on a civilian
passenger bus, on April 6 had witnessed the
worst-ever massacre of 75 CRPF jawans and one policeman in a
Naxal ambush.

The Home Ministry called a meeting in Delhi to review
the situation. Union Home Secretary G K Pillai said the
killing of innocent civilians showed "wanton disregard" for
life by Naxals.

"This pattern of killing unarmed civilians has been the
hallmark of Maoist violence over the years. In the last two
days, we have seen that a village sarpanch and five others
were killed," Pillai said.

The Chief Minister said the attack showed the
desperation of the Naxals who were losing their support base.

"This incident shows the cruel face of Naxals. We have
been saying this... when the Naxal support base erodes they
resort to such methods. Their (Naxals) belief in people`s
representatives and local population has finished," he said.

On May 8, seven CRPF jawans were killed when Naxals
blew up a bullet-proof vehicle in Bijapur district.

The Maoists also killed six villagers, including a
sarpanch, near Teregaon in Rajnandgaon district yesterday and
threw their bodies outside the villages.

Rajnandgaon district has witnessed a series of Naxalite
attacks in the past. In July last year, Maoists had attacked a
police party killing 29 personnel, including Superintendent of
Police Vinod Kumar Choubey.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 - 00:19

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