Attack suspected to have been carried out by Maoists

Three Border Security Force (BSF) personnel, a constable of the Chhattisgarh police and a Special Police Officer were killed in an ambush in Chhattisgarh's Kanker district, 250 km from Raipur, on Sunday morning. Another constable was injured in the encounter that occurred at Bhuski, 8.5 km away from the Durgkondal police station.

The police suspect that it was the handiwork of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), but the party is yet to claim responsibility.

The attack brings to 217 the total number of security personnel killed this year by the CPI (Maoist). “The ambush occurred at 6.50 a.m.,” Kanker Superintendent of Police Ajay Yadav said. “A joint party of the BSF and the DF [the District Force] had set out on an area domination and road opening exercise.”

At Bhuski 100-150 Maoists opened fire on the force, killing five men on the spot. The encounter lasted 40 minutes.

“We have also lost five weapons: two AK 47s and one light machine gun belonging to the BSF men and the two INSAS rifles carried by the district policemen,” he said.

Sources said the road opening party was mobilised to sanitise the stretch from Kanker to Pakhanjoor, as Chhattisgarh Minister for Forests Vikram Usendi was expected to address a meeting of journalists at Pakhanjoor.

Mr. Usendi's office could not be contacted.

While paramilitary forces such as the BSF do not comment on deployment as a matter of policy, sources said the BSF has five battalions (approximately 5,000 men) deployed in Chhattisgarh, all concentrated in Kanker district.

While it is too early to say whether the attack would affect the BSF's operations in Chhattisgarh, the heavy casualties inflicted by the CPI (Maoist) on the Central Reserve Police Force have drastically curtailed the CRPF's operations in the State.

In Chhattisgarh alone, more than 100 CRPF personnel have been killed in the past three months.

“All CRPF patrols must now be cleared by HQ [the headquarters in Delhi],” a senior CRPF officer said.

“We have been instructed not to leave our camps without clearance, and the number of patrols has reduced considerably.”