Days before the first phase of polls in Chhattisgarh, four CRPF personnel were killed and two more injured Saturday after Maoists used a powerful IED to target a bulletproof mobile bunker vehicle in Bijapur district.
Bijapur and 11 other seats of Bastar are set to go to polls on November 12, with Chief Minister Raman Singh even campaigning in four different parts of Bastar on Saturday. Police officials said that the two injured personnel have been evacuated by helicopter.
According to police, between 50 and 60 personnel of the CRPF’s 168 Battalion had exited their Murdanda camp on an area domination exercise. “There were six jawans in a mobile bulletproof bunker which was targeted by an IED at the Durga Mandir Puliya under the Avapalli police station limits. Four of them have lost their lives in the attack,” said D M Awasthi, Special DG, Anti Naxal Operations.
Photograph of the mangled remains of the Mobile Bunker. Senior police officials say that thrme vehicle is a Tata 407 converted into a bulletproof vehicle. Worryingly IED was planted less than a kilometre from the camp @IndianExpress pic.twitter.com/rlPIzn8EuJ
— Dipankar Ghose (@dipankarghose31) October 27, 2018
The jawans killed in the blast were identified as ASI Mir Maitur Rehman, head constable BM Behra, constable C H Praveen and constable G Shreenu Kumar.
Police officials said they were yet to determine the just how powerful the IED was, but that the vehicle turned turtle after the blast that took place at around 4 pm. “This is not a Mine Protected Vehicle. This is a mobile bunker which is essentially a Tata 407 vehicle which has been converted into a bulletproof vehicle,” said a senior Bijapur-based official.
Senior police officials, however, did admit that it was a sign of worry that the IED was planted so close to a camp. “We will look at what lapses took place if any. In any case, it is a worry of how close the IED was planted from the camp because the explosion took place less than 1 km away from the camp. It was a command IED, but also key will be to ascertain how old the IED planted is. We will also investigate if standard operating procedures were followed in the use of the mobile bunkers,” a senior official said.
Chief Minister Raman Singh, who held four rallies in Bastar Saturday in the neighbouring districts of Sukma, Dantewada and Narayanpur, condoled the deaths of the jawans and called it a cowardly attack by Maoists. Condolences also poured in from other political parties who, however, added that these attacks made it clear that the Chief Minister had been unable to tackle left wing extremism.