Saturday, June 20, 2009

Maoists ambush security forces

IAF choppers comb W Bengal forests

Prasanta Paul, Lalgarh (West Midnapore), DH News Service :
Saturday, June 20, 2009

Resorting to guerrilla strikes, armed Maoists ambushed security forces from the rear at Pirrakhuli, about 15 km from here, on Friday, triggering a heavy exchange of fire.

The Maoists had initially conceded some ground to the combined Central and state paramilitary and police forces.

While reports of casualty, if any, was not immediately known, reinforcements from neighbouring places were being rushed to assist the commandos caught in the gunfight on the second day of the operation to flush out armed Naxalites from their self-declared liberated zone at Lalgarh, officials here said.

Authorities pressed into service IAF choppers, which took off from the Kalaikunda airbase near Kharagpur early Friday morning.

The helicopters reached Bhimpur High School premises here, signalling a larger scale of operations against the Maoists.

Even though the guns fell silent once darkness set in, the security forces have sent an SOS for searchlights in order to secure their positions as the Maoists are believed to be mining some strategic exit points for the police who have even prevented some mediapersons from leaving for Bhimpur, the fortrifed zone two km away where the forces have set up camp.

It was apparently a strategic blunder on the part of the officials in charge of the operation, as it was evident from Friday’s exchange of gunfire that the area was yet to be sanitised despite the forces making an overnight stay there.

Rebels’ plan

In fact, on Friday morning the Maoists allowed personnel of the specialised anti-Naxal force called COBRA, to move into the interiors of the Jhitkha forests.

Once the heavily armed COBRA commandos, divided into two groups, skirted the road and entered the jungle through fields and proceeded some two kms inside the forest, the militants who had recaptured their positions the previous night, emerged from the neighbouring villages.

They almost sprang on some of the media vehicles trailing the police and Central Reserve Police Force jawans and ordered the newsmen to deposit their mobiles and asked to leave the area for their safety and to ensure the news of their presence did not reach the police.

However, after the police and CRPF jawans got the “smell” of action, they alighted from their vehicles and were immediately fired at.

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