Three troopers of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) were killed, and another seriously injured, when a powerful Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded under their vehicle on National Highway 16 in Chhattisgarh's troubled Dantewada district. The police believe that the IED was detonated by cadres of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

"The SSB jawans were traveling in a Tata 407 [light truck] as part of a convoy of 11 vehicles headed from Dantewada to Jagdalpur," said Deputy Inspector General of Police, Vivekananda Sinha at a press conference in the State capital, Raipur. Mr. Sinha said that the blast occurred about 20 km from the Dantewada district headquarters along a well-travelled section of NH 16.

While the police is still gathering evidence from the blast site, Mr. Sinha said the IED was probably embedded under the road's metalled surface by tunnelling through it's raised embankments.

Police sources surmised that the Maoists had probably posted a 'spotter' who must have alerted the rebels when the force left its camp. The explosion occurred about 6 km from the bustling urban settlement of Geedam.

The SSB is a central paramilitary force primarily deployed along India's land borders. A police spokesperson said that two battalions of the force were deployed in Chhattisgarh in 2007 to guard resettlement camps in Dantewada and Bijapur during Salwa Judum, a government backed programme in which thousands of residents were shifted into guarded camps.

"The SSB is being withdrawn from Chhattisgarh. They will be replaced by the Chhattisgarh Armed Force and state police," said DIG Sinha, adding that the SSB convoy was in the process of dismantling their headquarters when they were attacked.