Friday, May 22, 2009

5 women among 16 cops killed in Maharashtra Naxal attack

Vivek Deshpande
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Five policewomen were among 16 personnel killed today in a Naxalite attack, their first major strike after the Lok Sabha polls, near the Kala Ghoda hillocks in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra. This is perhaps the first instance of women police personnel being killed by Naxalites.

The dead included Inspector Ashok Iyer who had opted to give up a Nagpur posting to serve again in Gadchiroli, a Naxal hotbed which serves as a passage for armed cadres moving from Chhattisgarh to Andhra Pradesh.

The ambush on a busy state highway leading to Chhattisgarh was the second in less than four months in Markegaon in north Gadchiroli where 15 policemen were killed by Naxalites on February 1. It is suspected that both attacks were led by Diwakar, a top Naxalite.

At least 100 Naxalites were said to have participated in the attack today. They later fled with the weapons of the dead police personnel. Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has decided to cancel his trip to Delhi — he was to attend the swearing-in of the UPA government tomorrow — and head to Gadchiroli.

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