Four personnel of the Border Security Force (BSF) including a commandant were killed in an ambush by Maoists in Malkangiri district of south Odisha on Friday.
Two other BSF personnel and two officials of the Irrigation Department (ID) were also injured in the attack, which came a day before the first phase polls of the panchayat elections.
It was the first major attack of Maoists against BSF personnel involved in anti-Maoist operations in the State.
According to the district police, the BSF personnel were on their way to Chitrakonda from the BSF camp at Balimela. They were travelling in a SUV to oversee security arrangements for the polls. At 1 p.m., their vehicle overturned in a landmine blast about nine km from Balimela. No one was seriously injured or killed, but the personnel fell victim to indiscriminate firing by Maoists hiding in the nearby dense forest.
A vehicle of the ID that reached the spot was also fired at.
The four BSF personnel are Commandant J.K. Khaswan, Deputy Commandant Rajesh Saran, Subedar Ashok Yadav and Assistant Sub-Inspector Jitendra Sahu.
The driver of the vehicle, Subhendu Kundu, and the Personal Security Officer of the Commandant, Bishnu Pani, were injured. The two ID officials injured were Srikant Behera and Govind Chandra Ray.
The injured were brought to the Malkangiri district hospital. Inspector-in-charge of the Malkangiri police station R.K. Pati said the injured were out of danger.
The bodies of the deceased reached Malkangiri for autopsy.
The district is a major hotbed of Maoist activity as it borders the Naxalite-infested areas of Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.