At least 20 jawans were killed and several others injured when Maoists attacked a security camp at Silda in West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district on Monday.

The Maoists looted firearms and set the camp on fire after spraying bullets on the security personnel who were caught unawares, some busy cooking in the kitchen. The extremists also triggered explosions.

District Magistrate Narayan Swarup Nigam told The Hindu over telephone from Midnapore: “Our boys have reached the spot and it appears that around 20 jawans were killed in the attack.”

Some of the jawans, mostly belonging to the Eastern Frontier Rifles, were feared to have been burnt alive.

Maoist polit bureau member Kishanji claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was an answer to Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s ‘Operation Green Hunt’.

“In the last two months, several persons were killed in various States in the name of ‘Operation Green Hunt’. This was a counter-offensive in response to the Centre’s offensive,” Kishanji told a local news channel.

While there were reports of the Maoists too suffering casualty when the security forces retaliated, Kishanji denied the same. He called the attack as a part of the outfit’s “Peace Hunt” operations.

Director-General of Police Bhupinder Singh told The Hindu that the Maoists triggered several blasts before opening fire on the security personnel.

Calling it a “serious incident,” Mr. Singh said forces from the Belpahari and Salboni security camps had been sent to the spot.

Landmines planted

According to police sources, a large group of Maoists arrived at the camp on motorcycles in the afternoon. They triggered several explosions and stormed into the camp while firing. Before leaving the spot, the Maoists planted several landmines on the entire stretch of road leading to the camp.

Kishanji claimed that several sophisticated weapons, including AK-47 and SLR rifles, were looted by the Maoists and threatened that they would henceforth act in a similar manner unless the security operations were stopped.

Open to dialogue

He reiterated that the Maoists were open to sit for dialogue with the Centre and the State government on the condition that the Centre “stops the carnage against innocent people.”