15 policemen killed in Maoist ambush in Maharashtra


Mumbai : At least 15 policemen were killed Sunday when suspected Maoist guerrillas ambushed them in a thick forest of eastern Maharashtra in what is said to be the “most brutal attack” on security forces in several decades, officials said.

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According to the official, Maoist insurgents attacked the 15-member police team around 11 a.m. in the jungles of Dhanora sub-division of Gadchiroli district, about 300 km from Nagpur, assistant sub-inspector Rajendra Hote from Gadchiroli district control told IANS.

The area falls under the jurisdiction of the Purada police station.

Following reports that a heavily armed gang of Maoists was seen in the Dhanora area and was reportedly planning to launch an attack in the region, the 15-member police had gone to Dhanora to flush out the insurgents hiding in the jungles, around 10 km away from Purada.

“Each of the security personnel was individually chased and systematically killed by the Maoists – something like this has never been witnessed in the past,” Hote said.

“This is also the biggest number of casualties of policemen since 1982 when Gahchiroli district was formed and the most brutal attack on security forces in the past several decades in the Maoist-infested districts of eastern Maharashtra.”

The ambush resulted in the death of the entire police team, 14 policemen and a sub-inspector, he said.

A tense Maharashtra Director-General of Police A.N. Roy vowed that the authorities would not take the attack lying down.

“The police will launch an appropriate counter-offensive on the Maoists. I am reaching Gadchiroli early Monday morning and after discussions with my officers, we shall plan the next operation,” Roy told IANS.

The slain police personnel are: Sub-inspector Upendra Gudghekar, who led the anti-Maoist operation, Kalidas Halami, Nanu Halami, Duryodhan Halami, Baisakhu Badoti, Phagu Koram, Bhushan Mogre, Ravidas Kumbhare, Madhav Pote, Rupesh Pendhor, Dilip Manark, Manoj Kalyanpallivar, Suudhakar Dokarmare, Surendra Naitam and Chaus Amarolatkar.

At least eight insurgents were reportedly killed by the police but there was no official confirmation about it.

Maharashtra Home Minister Jayant Patil and a junior minister Nitin Raut, accompanied by senior civil and police officials and anti-Maoist experts, were expected leave for Gadchiroli Sunday night or early Monday, a state government official told IANS.

Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has ordered the deployment of additional forces in the area. Accordingly, more than 150 vehicles carrying nearly 3,000 security personnel from neighbouring regions and adjoining districts left for Gadchiroli in the evening.