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More than 40 CRPF jawans killed in ambush by Naxalites in Dantewada

Map of Chhatisgarh.
Map of Chhatisgarh.

In one of the biggest Naxalite strikes ever, at least 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in an ambush by the left-wing extremists in the Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh early this morning, and indications were that the toll could be much higher.

The men were part of a CRPF patrol party of about 120 jawans who were returning in an anti-landmine vehicle from an operation in the thick Mukrana forest in the district when they were attacked between 0600 and 0700 hours today.

The Maoists triggered a landmine blast and as soon as the CRPF vehicle came to a halt, they started firing indiscriminately at the jawans from a hillock on which they had taken positions.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh told mediapersons that he had been informed that at least 40 people had died. Other officials, too, said that at least 40 bodies had been recovered.

State Home Minister Nanki Ram Kanwar told television channels that between 50 and 60 people had died, while other sources indicated the figure was around 70. Besides, several of the jawans were injured in the attack.

The State Government has rushed helicopters to the area to rescue the rest of the team and airlift the bodies. The fact that the area is thickly forested and that the Maoists had blocked all access made the task that much more difficult for the security forces.

In New Delhi, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram told reporters that the CRPF jawans were returning from a joint operation planned with the State police when the attack took place.

Map of Dantewada.
Map of Dantewada.

"Something has gone very, very wrong and they seem to have walked into a trap set by the Naxalites," he said.

Mr Chidambaram said the casualties were "quite high" and expressed his deep shock at the incident. "I am sorry for those who have lost their lives," he said.

The Home Minister said the attack showed the savage nature of the Maoists and the brutality and savagery they were capable of. He said senior officers had rushed to the scene and he was awaiting their report.

NNN

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