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25 CRPF men killed in Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh

At least 25 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed and six wounded yesterday in a Naxalite attack in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district.

A paramilitary patrol, 99-personnel strong, sanitising the area for a road to be laid, was attacked at 12:25 pm in Kala Pathar area of south Bastar, close to the Chintagufa-Burkapal-Bheji axis, the hotbed of Naxal violence that has seen a series of such attacks in the past.

All troops belonged to the 74th Battalion, sources said. Reinforcements, including CoBRA commandos, have been rushed to the site.

“We have lost 25 men. We are still to account for all personnel. A search is on,” said a senior CRPF officer. While 11 bodies were recovered first, 12 more were found during combing operations, he said. A jawan died on way to hospital. The company commander, Raghubir Singh, an Inspector-rank officer, was among those killed.

An injured jawan, brought to a hospital here, said they were attacked by 300 Maoists. “The Naxals first sent villagers to check our position. I also saw some women Naxals. They were all in black uniform and carried sophisticated weapons, such as AK assault rifles.”  A considerable number of Naxals are believed to have been killed in retaliatory action, according to the CRPF.  Officials said the ambush set up by the Naxals was as deadly as the one on March 11 in Bheji area of Sukma district in which 12 personnel had died. Another survivor said the Naxals, who were in hiding, opened indiscriminate fire and lobbed hand grenades, taking the patrol by  surprise.

The wounded troopers, who were airlifted and hospitalised, were identified as Assistant Sub-Inspector RP Hembram and constables Swaroop Kumar, Mohinder Singh, Jitendra Kumar, Sher Mohammed and Latoo Oraon.

The incident comes at a time when the country’s largest paramilitary force is without a full-time chief.  Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi reviewed the situation in the aftermath of the attack at North Block.

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