A company of 100 soldiers from the specialised Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) squad of the Central Reserve Police Force was deployed in the forests surrounding the Dhaudai police station as combing operations intensified in Chhattisgarh's Narayanpur district after Tuesday's ambush by Maoists killed 27 CRPF personnel.
“The toll has risen from 26 fatalities to 27,” Superintendent of Police Rahul Bhagat said.
On Wednesday afternoon, search parties located the body of Neeraj Kumar, a CRPF jawan, who went missing after the ambush.
“The ambush occurred at 1.30 p.m.,” Mr. Bhagat said. “We lost one assistant commandant of the CRPF, two sub-inspectors and eight head constables.”
The police are yet to ascertain the exact number of weapons lost, but sources told The Hindu that “it is expected to cross 20.” The sources said most of the personnel were carrying INSAS and Self Loading Rifles.
The sources said 59 men of the CRPF's 39th Battalion and one Special Police Officer of the Chhattisgarh police left the Dhaudai camp at 5.00 a.m. on Tuesday.
“The company was directed to secure the common ambush points along a seven-km stretch along the Narayanpur-Orcha road as the CRPF was conducting ‘logistics operations'.”
Public buses used
A police source revealed that the ‘logistical operations' involved using four public buses to transport personnel from Dhaudai to Narayanpur. “The buses were used to ferry those going on leave, and their replacements.”
The CRPF's decision to transport them by a public bus could prove controversial as the Maoists blew up a civilian bus in Dantewada last month in an attempt to target the Special Police Officers travelling on its roof.
While public buses were not targeted in Tuesday's ambush, the Maoists attacked the road-opening party, as the men were returning to their base.