Gadchiroli: Fifteen security personnel and their driver were killed when Maoists triggered an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Maharashtra’s Jambhumpada village, in Gadchiroli district, on Wednesday, reported NDTV and various other news agencies.
An official at the police headquarters in Maharashtra told news agency AFP: “So far 16 men have died.”
The blast was triggered when a team of security personnel was on its way to inspect a site where Maoists had torched vehicles earlier in the day.
Earlier in the day, around 3.30am, Maoists had torched 25 vehicles which were parked along the road in Kurkheda area, using kerosene and diesel, police officer Shailesh Balkawade said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted saying: “Strongly condemn the despicable attack on our security personnel in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra. I salute all the brave personnel. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten. My thoughts & solidarity are with the bereaved families. The perpetrators of such violence will not be spared.”
This is the third Maoist attack in Gadchiroli, which borders Chhattisgarh, since the national election began in April.
Home minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis about the incident. “We are providing all assistance needed by the state government. MHA is in constant touch with the state administration,” he tweeted.
On April 11, another IED blast was set off near a polling booth in Gadchiroli, during the first phase of Lok Sabha polls. No one was injured in the incident. A day before that, a Central Reserve Police Force trooper was critically injured in an IED blast in Gadchiroli.
Wednesday’s Maoist attack comes on a day when Maharashtra is celebrating its foundation day.
The Maoists are observing week-long protest to mark the first anniversary of 40 of their members who were gunned down by security forces on April 22 last year.