Forest Range Officer M. Gangaiah was killed and seven forest guards were injured when they were attacked by a mob at K.K. Tanda near Nallavelli in Dharpally mandal in the wee hours of Sunday.

The villagers sprinkled chilly powder before attacking the forest personnel. The sudden attack took the foresters by surprise. While Gangaiah (42), who was hit by an axe on the head died on the spot, some guards managed to escape. The injured were admitted to the Government hospital here.

On information that villagers were ploughing the reserve forestland, Gangaiah along with 11 forest personnel rushed to the village around 1 a.m where they ran into an irate mob.

Superintendent of Police K.V. Mohan Rao said that all the accused were identified and five persons were taken into custody. The attack occurred following the alleged instigation by a CPI (M) leader Vadde Bhaskar who has been on the run. The village was once a Maoist stronghold, he added.

Special teams constituted

Mr. Rao said that the attack seemed to be a pre-planned one as the forest staff were reportedly informed by a villager about the tilling of forestland at the hamlet which is remote and inaccessible by four-wheelers. About 25 to 30 persons were involved in the attack, he said adding that five special teams had been constituted to nab the accused.

Collector P.S. Pradyumna and Divisional Forest Officer Bheema Naik visited the spot. A police picket was posted at the village. The body of Gangaiah was shifted to the district headquarters hospital for post-mortem examination.

The official is survived by wife and two children.