It was the biggest attack on security forces in last one-and-a-half year in the state.
The naxal attack in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district which killed 12 CRPF personnel appeared to have been “pre-planned” and executed with “deadly accuracy”, police said today. Besides triggering IED blast and indiscriminate firing, naxals also lobbed country-made mortars and “Rambo-style” explosive-headed-arrows on security personnel during the ambush, they said. “As per preliminary investigation, it was learnt that the attack was pre-planned and executed by two military platoons of maoists active in Bhejji periphery. The security forces seem to have walked into a trap,” a senior police official told PTI.
At around 8 AM yesterday, a Road Opening Party (ROP) of CRPF’s 219th battalion, comprising around 120 personnel, had launched the operation from Bhejji to ensure security to the construction works underway between Injram-Bhejji, he said. Besides, the ROP was also meant to sanitise the area for the movement of villagers and traders for the weekly market held every Saturday at Bhejji, located around 450 kms from the state capital, the official said.
“It is presumed that ultras were aware of the ROP operation on ‘market day’ and therefore had positioned themselves in the forest ahead of the patrolling team’s movement,” he said. “When the para-military forces reached around 2 kms away from their camp towards Kottacheru at around 8:50 AM, the naxals surrounded them and unleashed the attack on them by resorting to random firing after triggering a powerful explosion, without giving them any chance to save themselves,” the official said.
The troopers, however, took position and retaliated but till then over a dozen of them were hit by bullets and splinters, he said.
“The naxals also lobbed Rambo-type explosive-headed-arrows and locally-made mortars to inflict injuries on security personnel,” the officer said. Such locally-made mortars and arrows do not inflict deadly injuries, but reportedly prove to be a great tool to thwart opponents in such an ambush, he said.
The officer further added that such grenade-headed-arrows were also used in recent attacks on security personnel camp in Narayanpur and Kondagaon districts of Bastar division. Initial inputs suggest that military platoon no 2 and 4 of maoists were involved in yesterday’s attack, the official said, adding that more details will be known after investigation.
It was the biggest attack on security forces in last one-and-a-half year in the state. Notably, Injram-Bhejji patch is part of the strategically important road being built from Dornapal to inaccessible Jagargunda (58 kms long). Bhejji is located around 15 kms away from Injram, which is situated on Sukma-Konta road -a patch on NH 30 that connects Jagdalpur (district headquarter of Bastar) to Vijaywada in Andhra Pradesh. Five Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camps have been set up between Injram-Bhejji, besides a police station in Bhejji which was constructed long back.
The newly-appointed Inspector General of Police (incharge) Bastar Range Sundarraj P had last month visited Jagargunda and assured the people that the construction of this road (Dornapal-Jagargunda) will be completed soon. The rebels are opposed to such road projects, especially this one, fearing that it would facilitate the movement of forces in the pockets that they claimed to be their “liberated zone.” Through such attacks they want to thwart development works, he said.
Security personnel have been put on alert fearing maoist offensive activities in view of annual ‘tactical counter offensive campaign’ (TCOC) being observed by rebels from March-June. “The summer season proves to be a favourable period for carrying out maoist attacks as the grass and bushes dry up providing a clear view of force movement in the vast jungle terrain,” the official added.