Raipur: Eight Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers were killed Saturday when Maoist guerrillas blew up their vehicle in Chhattisgarh`s Bijapur district, a month after the rebels massacred 76 security personnel in the same region.
"The Maoists blew up a bullet-proof vehicle in the Koretal forested stretch with a landmine. At least eight CRPF men were killed," Director General of Police Vishwa Ranjan told agency. A CRPF trooper was injured.
He described the blast as a highly powerful one that ripped through the vehicle and many bodies were blown into pieces.
Two civilians, who were on a motorcycle in the vicinity when the landmine exploded with a deafening blast, were also injured.
The dead men, one assistant sub-inspector, three head constables and four constables, were from the 168 battalion and were returning to Bijapur after distributing ration to various CRPF locations in Awapalli, Ranjan said.
Bijapur is nearly 480 km south of Raipur, the state capital.
"The CRPF men are repeatedly overlooking a 48-point guerilla warfare guidelines provided them to must adopt in Maoist-dominated Bastar region, they have committed a blunder Saturday by returning back from the same route," B.K. Ponwar, director of Chhattisgarh-based Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College (CTJWC), told IANS.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh termed the attack as an act of "cowardice".
A senior police officer said the CRPF team were targetted because of "gross neglect of warfare manuals".
"I am surprised that despite tip-off about possible attack, the CRPF men were going out without reinforcements and were also very few in numbers. It`s a gross neglect of warfare manuals," he said.
Dozens of policemen based at Bijapur town, some 10 km away from the blast site, have launched a search operation in the area which is heavily mined.
The attack took place in the sprawling Bastar region where the Maoists killed 75 CRPF personnel and a Chhattisgarh policeman and took away their arms and ammunition April 6.
It was the deadliest Maoist strike since their insurgency began in the country more than four decades ago from the village of Naxalbari in West Bengal.
The April massacre shocked India`s security establishment as the supposedly trained CRPF men had walked into a Maoist trap and were killed after being ringed from three sides.
The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), which is now active in dozens of districts across the country, vowed to carry out more such attacks on security forces.
Officials admit that the CPI-Maoist is the de facto ruler in the forested interiors of mineral-rich Bastar region, where the dominant population is of tribals.