Monday, April 13, 2009

Naxals attack Nalco site, six feared killed

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Bolangir (Orissa), April 12
Just three days after Orissa DGP said that Naxal threat in the state was “more real and graver” than ever, left-wing extremists today struck with vengeance, launching the most daring attack in recent history on a reputed government undertaking in south-east Orissa.

Armed with sophisticated weapons and communication technology, some 80 armed suspected CPI (Maoists) cadres swooped down on the bauxite mining site of National Aluminium Company (Nalco), reportedly killing more than six CRPF men and targeting workers on job inside the mine at the time of the late night attack. Close to 350 workers were inside the mine and 250 had been evacuated till reports last came in. Nalco MD, however, said the Naxals had blocked all roads around the site.

The mining area, which has long been maintained by Nalco, is located at Daaman Jodi village in the south-eastern district of Koraput, one of the most heavily infested Naxal districts of Orissa, Rayagada block being the most affected.

While official reports on the attack had not come in at the time of the filing of this report, Orissa DIG RP Koche confirmed the Naxal operation to The Tribune, saying, “This is the most audacious and serious kind of attack.” He said IG (South-eastern Range) was in command of the situation along with local police in Koraput.

Anticipating trouble, the state police had earlier asked the Centre for 50 companies of paramilitary forces to combat threats from Naxals and other factors. So far, 45 companies have arrived, 15 of them after the three-day-old killing of an Assembly election candidate in Malkangiri area of Nawarangpur district, the southernmost tip of Orissa and as affected as Koraput.

“I am short of resources,” Orissa DGP M Praharaj had said on April 10 in an exclusive interview to the Tribune where he voiced his concerns over lightly armed state police machinery and heavily armed Naxals. The top cop said 1,500 armed Naxal cadres were active in Orissa and were waiting for a chance to strike. He had also ordered review of the security situation. Only yesterday, the state police arrested three heavily armed Naxal cadres from Rayagada in Koraput.

Shortage of trained security personnel could be one reason for the audacious Naxal attack tonight at Koraput, where combat operations were on till past midnight. The major concentration of central forces right now is in Kandhamal, which has 19 companies deployed, leaving only 26 to be shared by all the other nine Lok Sabha segments that go to polls on April 16.

CPI (Maoists) have vowed to disrupt polls in the state. Sources in Kandhamal district administration today told The Tribune that Naxals might have planned to attack Koraput tonight after they failed to strike Kandhamal, where heavy central security force presence is a major deterrent.



CNN IBN

Bhubaneshwar: Security forces have driven out Naxals, who attacked NALCO's bauxite mine in Orissa, on Monday morning after a nine-hour long gunbattle.


Central Reserve Police Force (CISF) personnel and the Special Operations Group were sent to the site after more than 200 Naxalites stormed Panchpatmali mine at Damonjodi in Koraput district on Sunday night.


According to reports, eight CISF personnel have been killed while 13 personnel injured during the gunbattle at Asia's biggest bauxite mine.


Officials claim four Naxals, too, have been killed in the operation. However, it is it is feared that the Naxals have looted weapons from the CISF armoury situated near the mine.


But nearly 100 workers who were trapped inside the mine are safe.


"The workers at the site have been probably locked up somewhere but are not being harmed. Maoists could have targeted the mine for seizing explosives stored there. We store explosives for mining operations. Police had earlier asked us to protect the area well, following which the security was stepped up," said Chairman and Managing Director of NALCO CR Pradhan.


The attack took place around 2130 hrs IST on Sunday night when over 200 Naxalites, including women stormed NALCO premises.


The operation by security forces was hampered as the roads to the mine were blocked and landmines laid in the area.


Earlier, Naxals had also launched attacks in Orissa's Malkangiri and Raygada districts.


NALCO mine in Damonjodi is Asia's largest bauxite mine. The company is one of the Navratnas of the country and was incorporated in 1981, as a Public Service Undertaking of Government of India.


The company is the largest aluminium complex in Asia and the sixth largest in the world. Nalco is also the largest exporter of the metal in the country with its own section of port facilities at Visakhapatnam.


The company's main units are Damanjodi and Nalconagar-Angul in Orissa.


(With inputs from Jajati Karan

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