Raipur/New Delhi: Nine CRPF personnel were on Tuesday killed after Maoists blasted their mine protected vehicle using over 50 kg of explosives in Chhattisgarh's Sukma, about a year after a dozen jawans were killed in a similar ambush in the district.
Officials said the incident took place around 12:30 pm along the 5-km under-construction Kistaram-Palodi road when the troops of the 212th battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were out for an operation.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the incident was "deeply distressing" and asked CRPF Director General R R Bhatnagar to rush to Chhattisgarh.
"My heartfelt condolences to the families of those personnel who lost their lives in Sukma blast. I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured jawans," he said.
The home minister spoke to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh who briefed him about the incident, steps taken for the jawans' treatment and operations to arrest those involved. The armoured MPV had gone about 10-feet into the air and crashed on the ground before splitting into pieces. All the personnel were killed due to the impact of the blast even as many were thrown out of the vehicle, officials said.
"The troops who came under attack were travelling in the MPV and going towards a newly-opened post in Palodi. Naxals were first spotted in the area around 8 am, and the CoBRA teams effectively retaliated and broke the ambush.
"However, when a convoy of motorcycles and 2 MPVs were crossing the area in the noon, the second mine protected vehicle got caught in the blast," Bhatnagar said in Delhi.
He had returned from the state only on Tuesday morning after conducting an official tour.
When asked why MPVs were being used despite their vulnerability in Naxal areas, the DG said they were used sparingly and that they had not been entirely abandoned for use in operations.
A senior CRPF official in Raipur said the patrol squad had launched the search-cum-area domination operation from Kistaram towards Palodi, located around 500 km from here, given the visit of Sukma Superintendent of Police Abhishek Meena in Palodi on Monday. Related stories on P6