Suspected Maoist rebels kill 10 Indian policemen in attack
At least 10 policemen were killed in central India’s Chhattisgarh state in a suspected Maoist attack on Wednesday.
The driver of the car was also killed when it was hit by an explosive device.
A long-running Maoist insurgency in India began in the 1960s and has claimed thousands of lives in the decades since, though violence has declined dramatically in recent years.
Wednesday’s deaths were the deadliest among security forces in more than two years and claimed the lives of reservists returning from a mission to investigate rebel movements in the remote Dantewada district.
“They were returning from an operation when the blast hit their car,” Vivekanand, a senior Chhattisgarh police official, who used only one name, told AFP.
Footage broadcast by NDTV radio showed a crater extending several feet in the ground, and security forces inspecting worn-out vehicle parts that were scattered by the blast.
“I pay tribute to the brave individuals we lost in the attack,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter. “Their sacrifices will always be remembered.”
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhopesh Bagel told reporters the attack was “very sad” and vowed to redouble efforts to fight the state’s Naxalites, as Maoist rebels are known in India.
“This battle is in the last stage and we will not spare any Naxalites, and we will work out an appropriate plan to eliminate the Naxalites.”
No rebel group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.
India has deployed tens of thousands of troops to fight the insurgents across the rebel-held region known as the “Red Corridor”, which stretches across several central, southern and eastern states.
The Naxal groups say they are fighting for the rural people and the poor.
They are believed to be present in more than 10 states across India, but they are most active in remote parts of the interior of the country.
Their strongholds are in areas where most of the population remains mired in poverty and lacks access to vital services.
Delhi has also poured millions of dollars into infrastructure development in remote areas dominated by tribal communities, and claims to have limited armed insurgency to 53 districts in 2020, down from 96 in 2010.
Twenty-two police and paramilitary personnel are killed in a gun battle with far-left insurgents in 2021.
In March 2020, 17 commando patrol policemen were killed in an attack by more than 300 armed insurgents in Chhattisgarh.
Sixteen commandos were also killed in the western state of Maharashtra in a bomb attack blamed on the Maoists in the run-up to India’s elections in 2019.
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