Maoists struck in Sukma district on Monday , killing 14 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, including two officers. The Maoists allegedly adopted a cowardly tactic, using villagers as shields for the ambush that took place about 6 km from Taarmetla, where 76 CRPF jawans were killed in April 2010 in the deadliest single-day insurgent attack yet on Indian security forces.
“The Naxals used villagers as shields, so our troops couldn't retaliate with full force as that would have cost villagers’ lives,” a senior CRPF officer said.
“The slain officers included deputy commandant D S Verma and assistant commandant Rajesh Kapuriya. At least 13 to 14 jawans were also injured,” a senior CRPF officer supervising the rescue operations said over phone from Jagdalpur, the divisional headquarters of Bastar. The toll could rise further as the wounded jawans would have to survive the night on first-aid at CRPF medical camps. The nearest hospital is about 100 km away . Helicopters have left for Jagdalpur to carry the injured to the state capital, but the evacuation can be done only on Tuesday morning. CRPF officer said A there cold be some ca sualties on the Maoist side as well. The attack took place on a day when a team of National Security Advisory Board was in Chhattisgarh to meet the CM and top officials on the security situation in Maoist hotbeds. Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh is learnt to have drawn the team's attention towards Maoist cadres surrendering in Bastar and expressing hope that the region was on track to normalcy .
CRPF personnel, drawn from paramilitary's 223 and 206 battalions, were on an area domination exercise in the forests between Elmaguda and Errabore, where the rebels attacked. The precise location of the ambush is Kasalnar village, near Chintagufa and Chintalnar, close to Dornapal-Jagargunda road in Sukma district. “Our forces retaliated and engaged the rebels in a fierce encounter,“ a CRPF officer said. Security forces in Bastar have been on a propaganda drive in recent weeks following the surrender of a number of Maoists, with many rebels saying they want to join the political mainstream. But there has also been criticism that those surrendering were small-time cadres facing court cases for giving support to the Maoists.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh condemned the attack as an act of cowardice. He will visit Raipur on Tuesday to assess the situation. “My condolences to the families of our brave CRPF men who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. It was an act of cowardice. I strongly condemn this dastardly act of violence,“ Singh said.He spoke to the CM, asking him to closely monitor the situation.
Reinforcements were being sent to the area and the offensive was being led by CRPF inspector general (Chhattisgarh), H S Sidhu.