Sib Kumar Das
Attack comes ahead of massive offensive against the naxals
BERHAMPUR: Nine jawans of the anti-Maoist Special Operation Group (SOG) were killed and eight others seriously injured in a landmine blast triggered by Maoists in Koraput district of Orissa on Sunday morning.
The attack occurred at Tanginiguda on the Govindpalli ghat road around 10 a.m. The first of three mini buses carrying the SOG jawans took the impact of the massive blast, believed to have been triggered by remote control. The vehicle was thrown 40 feet in the air and its wreckage strewn over 100 metres. A 15-feet deep hole could be seen at the place of the blast.
Sources said a brief exchange of fire took place between the security personnel and the rebels near the blast site.
The injured were taken to Baipariguda and later to Jeypore in Koraput district. From there they were flown to Visakhapatnam.
Koraput Superintendent of Police Anup Sahu confirmed the death of nine personnel and injuries to eight. However, the sources said one SOG jawan was still missing till evening.
Reports said there were 19 persons in the vehicle.
The Malkangiri SP and the Koraput SP rushed to the spot. Intense combing operations have been launched in the area.
Traffic between Malkangiri and Jeypore was held up for several hours following the blast.
The SOG jawans were on their way from Koraput to Govindpalli in Malkangiri district.
They were on a mission to sanitise the Maoist-prone Govindpalli ghat road so that CRPF personnel camping at Govindpalli in Malkangiri district could move from there to Koraput.
This incident occurred while preparations are in full swing for a massive offensive against the naxals in the undivided Koraput district that adjoins the strongholds of the militants in Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.
Two battalions of the Border Security Force have reached Malkangiri district and one more battalion is expected.
Two BSF battalions are camping in the Koraput district.
The CRPF personnel deployed in these areas are being relocated to other naxal-hit districts.