Maoists are changing their tactics to counter security forces’ growing offensive in their strongholds. The latest examples came in the form of planting of a 1.5-kg improvised explosive device (IED) inside the stomach of a CRPF personnel killed in an encounter with Naxals in Jharkhand’s Latehar district on Monday, and placing of two IEDs beneath the bodies of two jawans at the encounter site. In the first case, the bomb was recovered and in the second, the IEDs exploded leading to some casualties.

“Had the bomb inside the body exploded before being detected by doctors at a local hospital, it would have claimed many innocent lives. It was a booby trap, a first of its kind, where the IED was meticulously concealed inside the stomach that had multiple stitches. The IED was a pressure bomb prototype which explodes on being disturbed. This is a first-of-its-kind incident where it is evident that Maoists are under tremendous pressure from security forces and thinking of new ways to target them,” a senior official of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said.

“The jawan’s body, recovered by a patrol party after the encounter, was strategically placed to ensure that security personnel do not miss it. The body with implanted IED was taken to a hospital in Ranchi where the doctors became suspicious after noticing stitches. The body was placed in an open field and a bomb disposal squad called, which later defused the bomb…, the intention was clear that through the IED blast, they wanted to kill many more,” the official said.

Acknowledging that Maoists are changing their strategy, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said: “They are employing new tactics…our forces are aware of it and have been very cautious while dealing with Maoists.”

In a major setback to the government’s offensive against Maoists in Latehar district, 10 security personnel, including nine from the CRPF lost their lives on Monday.

“The police and the CRPF jointly launched a big operation in the Maoist strongholds of Latehar where they are entrenched for decades and are familiar with the terrain. It is going to be tough for security forces, but we will still neutralise them. Though we have lost jawans, intelligence inputs suggest that Maoists too have suffered significant causalities. We will continue with our operations till Maoists are cleared from this area,” the official said.