Five policemen were killed and two others injured in an ambush by Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district around noon on Friday.

The rebels opened fire from a distance, as a 12-member police team reached a hilly tract at Shyamagiri in Kuakonda block, official sources said. The slain policemen were riding the first three motorcycles.

Three bikes were torched and six guns looted, said a senior officer of the Bastar division. The other five policemen escaped unhurt in the firing.

The team, from the Kuakonda station, was deployed to dominate the area to protect workers engaged in construction of a 16-km road from Kuakonda to Bacheli village via Shyamagiri. However, police sources said, the team had been visiting the area quite often over the last few days, allegedly violating the standard operating procedure (SOP).

Occupational hazard

But a senior officer said, “This is more of an occupational hazard than violation of the SOP, as we have to visit Maoist-controlled areas, if we have to construct roads.” He, however, did not deny that the successive police visits had helped the Maoists plan the ambush.

The slain policemen are the officer in-charge of the Kuakonda station, Vivek Shukla, and constables Sandeep Yadu, Dhaneswar Mandawai, Chabilal Kasi and Nav Kishore.