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25 Apr 2017

Maoists kill 25 jawans

A handout photo shows wounded security personnel being treated
in an army helicopter en route to a hospital after the attack in
Sukma, Chhattisgarh. (AFP/The defence ministry)
TT, April 24: At least 25 CRPF troops were killed in the middle of a meal this noon in Chhattisgarh's Sukma in a belt known as "the Maoist Tora Bora", a reference to the Taliban hideout in Afghanistan.
The whereabouts of seven other jawans were not known till tonight.
A part of the 74 battalion of the paramilitary force, which came under attack around 12.30pm, was entrusted with the task of protecting workers building a crucial road.
Once completed, the road linking Sukma town to Jagargunda, a distance of over 100km, is expected to play a key role in helping the security forces break the rebel domination over the territory.
Among the 25 confirmed casualties is inspector Rabhubir Singh. Three of the dead hailed from Bengal: sub-inspector Krishna Kumar Das and constable Binoy Chandra Barman from Cooch Behar and constable Arup Karmakar from Nadia.
"Over 300 armed Maoists attacked us. We tried to retaliate but they snatched our arms, ammunition and wireless sets. We fired at them and I saw three-four Maoists succumbing to injuries on the spot," CRPF jawan Sher Mohammad told local media.
The encounter took place at Kala Pathar near Chintagufa at Sukma, 400km from state capital Raipur.
The gun battle is said to have lasted about an hour. Mohammad, who suffered injuries, alleged that the Maoists had first sent villagers sympathetic to them to pinpoint the location of the paramilitary troops.
Some jawans were reportedly making instant noodles and some others were cooking rice when the attack began, sources said.
But Bastar inspector-general Vivekanand Sinha said, quoting preliminary reports, that the Maoists had ambushed a patrolling party of the CRPF near Burkapal village. Around 90 CRPF jawans were on duty to sanitise the road that is being built in the area when the Maoists, divided into multiple groups, attacked the CRPF party.
As many as 90,000 personnel of the CRPF are now deployed in the Maoist strongholds in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh.
This is the second attack in two months in the same region. Twelve CRPF personnel were killed on March 11 when Maoists had ambushed a CRPF patrol and looted their arms in Sukma.
A beleaguered Chhattisgarh chief minister, Raman Singh, called off his visit to Delhi and chaired a high-level meeting to take stock of the situation. In political circles, there is speculation that Singh may soon be given a gubernatorial assignment in the wake of the Chhattisgarh government's repeated failure to check the frequent Maoists attacks.
President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Rajnath Singh condemned the attack. In a tweet, Modi termed the attack "cowardly" and "deplorable".
"The sacrifice of the martyrs will not go in vain. Condolences to their families," the Prime Minister tweeted.
Rajnath said minister of state for home Hansraj Ahir was heading to Raipur to supervise relief and rescue operations.

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