At least 14 persons, including civilians, CRPF men and polling officials have died in multiple attacks by Maoists in Bastar region on Saturday.
The first incident took place in Darbha, second in the region in a month, when the rebels ambushed a Sanjivani 108 ambulance around 12 pm. Six CRPF personnel and the driver died in the attack.
While Maoists have fired at ambulances on few isolated occasions, it is the first instance when they blasted an ambulance.
The attack took place under mysterious circumstances. The CRPF personnel were on foot, when they hitched a lift in an ambulance. Just a km and a few minutes later, the ambulance was caught in an IED explosion, and was blasted to smithereens. So powerful was the IED that it left a deep crater across several meters on the national highway 30.
Even assuming that the Maoists learnt about the presence of CRPF cops in the vehicle immediately after they took the lift, it would leave just a few minutes for them to plant an IED and carry out the attack. Significantly, the area is heavily guarded, witnessed a major attack on the Congress convoy last May and an ambush on the CRPF team this March when 27 and 16 persons had died, respectively.
CRPF camps have dotted the area since then and the area is heavily patrolled, still the rebels could ambush in just a few minutes.
The second attack was near Ketulnar area in Bijapur district, some 200 km west of Darbha, when the Maoists attacked a civilian bus that was carrying polling officials returning from their duty. Seven poll officials died in the attack while others were injured.
“The polling party was returning on foot. As they felt tired, they got on a bus. Seven of them have died. If EVMs are damaged, their will be repoll,” said Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Kujur.
“They attacked at two places. Some personnel and polling officials have died. We are getting the exact the details,” said Raipur IG GP Singh, also the nodal officer for supervising elections in Bastar. Bastar voted on April 10, a day after the Maoists had killed three CoBRA personnel in Sukma district.