Bodies of 17 policemen killed in Maoist attack recovered


Bhubaneswar : The police Thursday recovered 17 bodies of their colleagues killed in a Maoist attack in Orissa’s Malkangiri district Wednesday.

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“We have recovered all the bodies (of the policemen),” district superintendent of police Satish Gajbhiye said.

Maoist guerrillas blew up an anti-landmine vehicle in Malkangiri Wednesday when a police party was returning from MPV41 village where the rebels Tuesday night looted a contractor’s house and set ablaze five of his vehicles.

Initially the police said 24 policemen were in the vehicle and all were killed. However, Gajbhiye later said 17 personnel were on board and the rest were riding on motorcycles. They managed to escape unhurt. The van was badly damaged in the blast.

“Anti-landmine vehicles have specific tolerance to withstand a blast. In this case, the rebels used huge explosives, much more than what it could tolerate,” Gajbhiye said.

Some eyewitnesses said the blast was so powerful that the vehicle was thrown over 40 metres in the air before it crashed on the ground.

The Orissa government has announced compensation of Rs.1.4 million to the families of each slain policemen and a job to a kin.

The Wednesday blast, the second biggest Maoist attack on a police party in the last one month, has shocked the government.

At least 38 policemen were killed when the leftist guerrillas attacked and sank a boat in Balimela reservoir in the same district June 29. Sixty-six personnel of Greyhounds – a special anti-Maoist force – were returning to Andhra Pradesh after taking part in a joint operation with the Orissa police when their motor boat was attacked.

The militants ambushed the boat from the surrounding hillocks as it was crossing Balimela reservoir, 700 km from here and about 220 km from Visakhapatnam city in Andhra Pradesh.

Earlier on Feb 15, the rebels attacked Orissa’s Nayagarh district armoury and a police training school simultaneously, with a degree of military precision unseen before. As many as 14 people, including 13 policemen, lost their lives in the attack.

According to the government, the rebels have influence in at least 15 out of the 30 districts of Orissa.

Police say the leftist guerrillas use modern weapons like light machine guns (LMG), AK47s and self loading rifles (SLR). Besides they have grenade launchers.