Raipur, May 20 (IANS) Six police personnel were killed and another was critically wounded in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district on Sunday when a landmine planted by Maoists ripped through the vehicle they were travelling in.
P. Sundarraj, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Dantewada Range), told IANS: “Six personnel were killed while one was seriously injured.”
Among the dead, five are from the Chhattisgarh Armed Force and one from the district police.
Deputy Inspector General of Police (South Bastar Range) Ratan Lal Dangi said a road was being built between Kirandul and Cholnar.
“A joint team of Chhattisgarh Armed Force and district police personnel was travelling to Kirandul to provide security to the labourers and officials there.”
The Maoists had reportedly planted a landmine in the Cholnar jungle area which exploded as the police vehicle drove over it, detonating with a deafening roar.
The blast killed five personnel instantly. A sixth person succumbed to his injuries later. The injured district policeman was referred to Raipur after first aid.
The powerful explosion shattered the jeep into many parts and left a 10-feet crater. The Maoists who were apparently watching from a distance took away the weapons including two AK-47s, two Insas and two SLR rifles.
Five of the dead were identified as Head Constable Ram Kumar Yadav, Assistant Constable Saligaram Vikram Yadav and Constables Teekeshwar Dhruv, Rajesh Singh and Virendra Nath.
Inspector General of Police (Bastar) Vivekanand Sinha told the media: “We have sounded a high alert in the area and launched a search operation for the Naxalites.”
The blast took place two days before Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh is set to hold a public meeting in Dantewada. Officials said security would be further increased for the Chief Minister’s meeting.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Congress President Rahul Gandhi condoled the deaths.
“Deeply anguished to know about the death of Chhattisgarh police personnel… My thoughts are with the bereaved families of the martyred police personnel,” Rajnath Singh tweeted.
Calling the news “very sad”, Gandhi tweeted: “My condolences to the families of those killed.”
Maoists have been active in the Dantewada region for decades, running a state within a state.