Thursday, June 25, 2009

UPDATE:Mobile phone towers main target of Naxals

Press Trust of India / New Delhi June 25, 2009, 16:01 IST

Mobile phone and telecom towers seem to have become a major target of Maoists, who have destroyed nearly 70 such installations during the last three years in half a dozen Naxal-infested states.

In the latest attack, Maoists blew up three mobile phone towers in Koraput district of Orissa today when they struck in a big way barely hours before the visit of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram to the state.

One of the communication towers at Kakiriguma, belonging to state-owned BSNL, was destroyed using landmines.

Today's incident came just two days after Maoists blew up a tower of a private telephone company in Gaya district of Bihar.

Concerned over frequent setback to telecommunication, hampering operations against the Naxals, the Home Ministry has offered that the towers could be located in the premises of para-military forces stationed in the troubled districts or in the campuses of police stations.

Home Ministry officials said the highest number of 20 towers were destroyed during the last three years in Chhattisgarh, where last year alone 14 mobile telephone towers of both private and government networks were attacked.

"Maoists believe police informers use mobile network to tip off security forces about their movements leading to arrests of several of their leaders and encounters," a senior official said.

Mobile phone towers located in Bihar faced the wrath of the Maoists, who blew up 14 of them last year, figures available with the Naxal Division in the Home Ministry showed.

Four other states where mobile telephone towers faced the brunt of Naxal attacks are Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, besides Orissa where the Maoists struck even today.

Jharkhand, which did not see any attack on mobile towers till 2007, saw nine such attacks in 2008 disrupting communication network in several Naxal-hit areas.

With mobile phones becoming increasingly popular during the last couple of years, 43 incidents of such attacks were reported last year alone.

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