Rebels unleash attack in Dantewada region, the second in less than two months
At least 35 special police officers (SPOs) and civilians were killed today when Naxals blew up a bus in Chhattisgarh’s restive Dantewada district, the same region where they had slaughtered 76 security personnel just over a month ago.
The ill-fated bus was going to Sukma from Dantewada when the Naxalites triggered a powerful landmine blast between Gajiras and Chingawaram, about 40 km from the district headquarters of Dantewada.
Sources said the blast took place at about 4.30 pm. Besides civilians, about 25 Special Police Officers (SPOs), the villagers trained and recruited by the state government, were on board the bus.
Chief Minister Raman Singh said 24 civilians and 11 SPOs were among the deceased. Fourteen SPOs and one woman were critically injured in the incident, the chief minister added.
Sources said that the blast took place on the State Highway that connected Sukma and Dantewada, a distance of about 90 km. “The bus blew up about 20 feet high following the impact of the powerful explosion, which created a 10-feet crater on the spot,” an intelligence official said.
The Dantewada Superintendent of Police, Amresh Mishra, along with his force, had passed through the spot just 10 to 15 minutes before the incident. The SPOs, who were in the bus, were returning after conducting a search operation in the area.
“Since a good number of SPOs were in the bus, the rebels targeted it to inflict a big casualty,” police officials said.
Senior police officials said that security personnel from the paramilitary forces and state police from Sukma and Gajiras had reached the spot. The injured had been shifted to the nearby hospital while bodies of the deceased were extricated from the mangled remains of the bus.
Sources said the casualty could increase as the condition of a few injured was reported to be critical.