At least 15 security personnel and a driver were reportedly killed after Naxals triggered an IED blast on a police vehicle in Maharashtra’s Gadchroli district on Wednesday.
The Naxals triggered an improvised explosive device (IED) to blow up the police vehicle on the Kurkheda-Korchi road in Gadchiroli when a team of the C-60 commandoes, an anti-Naxal unit, was patrolling the area.
“The Quick Response Team (QRT) was from Kurkheda police station. They were going to Purada village in a private vehicle. The blast occurred at around 12.30 pm near a nullah called Lendari in which 15 of our jawans have become martyrs,” DIG (Gadchiroli range) Ankush Shinde was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
The incident comes on a day when Maharashtra is celebrating its Foundation Day.
According to news agency ANI, heavy exchange of fire is underway between the police and the Naxals at the site of the blast.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly condemned the “despicable” attack on the security personnel in Gadchiroli, adding that the perpetrators of the attack will not be spared.
“Salute all brave personnel. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten. My thoughts & solidarity are with bereaved families. Perpetrators of such violence will not be spared,” PM Modi tweeted.
Expressing grief, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted: “Anguished to know that our 16 police personnel from Gadchiroli C-60 force got martyred in a cowardly attack by naxals today. My thoughts and prayers are with the martyrs’ families. I’m in touch with DGP and Gadchiroli SP.”
Earlier in the day, Maoists torched at least three dozen vehicles belonging to private contractors in Kurkheda sub-district of Gadchiroli, officials were quoted as saying by IANS on Wednesday.
The Maoists are in the final stages of observing a week-long protest to mark the first anniversary of 40 of their comrades who were gunned down by security forces on April 22 last year.
The Maoists also put up banners and posters condemning the killings of their comrades last year, before setting ablaze two JCBs, 11 tipper, diesel and petrol tankers, rollers, generator vans and two local site offices before fleeing from the spot.
A Central Reserve Police Force jawan escorting a polling party was injured in an improvised explosive device blast in the Naxal-affected Gadchiroli district on April 10, a day before the constituency went to polls in the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections.
On the day of polling too, Naxals triggered an IED blast near a booth in the district while voting was underway. However, no casualty was reported in the incident.
In 2009, Maoist rebels ambushed a police patrol in Maharashtra and killed 17 policemen.