Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nine cops killed in the landmine explosion in Orissa

18 Jun 2009, 2042 hrs IST, ET Bureau

BHUBANESWAR: Maoist in Orissa are challenging the Orissa police like never before. Nine policemen lost there lives with Maoists triggering a
landmine explosion on Thursday, damaging a jeep carrying jawans of a special police force in Orissa's Koraput district, about 530 km from Bhubaneswar, police said.

The van carrying nine personnel of Orissa Special Striking Force (OSSF), set up to tackle Maoist menace, was damaged beyond recognition in the landmine attack near Jogi Palur at Maoist-hit Narayanpatna area in Koraput, top officials said. The landmine, which was planted under the culvert, was detonated using a remote control.

The van flew nearly 40 feet up in the air under the impact of the explosion and mangled out of shape, Orissa director general of police Manmohan Praharaj said. All the nine policemen including the driver of the jeep died on the spot, he added.

The incident occurred when personnel of Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) and police were engaged in clearing the road between Narayanpatna and Laxmipur, blocked by the Maoists by felling trees two days ago, sources said adding that efforts were being made to clear the road to restore vehicular movement.

The explosion was suspected to have been triggered by the ultras using a remote control, they said.

Two companies of CRPF and Special Operation Group, an elite anti-Naxalite force of Orissa police, rushed to the spot to begin rescue operation. But they were ambushed by the Maoists who were hiding in the nearby bushes, leading to heavy exchange of fire between them. The gun battle was going on till the last report came in at 7.00 pm.

Narayanpatna, inhabited mostly by tribals, remained cut off from district headquarters of Koraput for the past one week as the Maoists blocked roads from all sides by felling trees.

Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS), a frontal organisation of CPI (Maoist) has launched a drive to restore tribal lands from non-tribals in the region. The outfit also attacked the non-tribals, particularly the scheduled caste people and destroyed their properties in many villages under Narayanpatna block forcing them to flee their homes.

The outfit has so far forcibly taken over around 600 acres from the control of non-tribals and distributed them among the original tribal owners. The situation continued to be volatile in the area as the local administration has failed to reach there.

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