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3 killed as Maoists attack security forces

Latehar/Sasaram: Maoists on Wednesday attacked para-military forces a day ahead of the first phase of Lok Sabha polls in Jharkhand and Bihar, killing three persons including two CRPF personnel even as police claimed that 17 of the ultras were gunned down.

About 200 members of the banned CPI (Maoist) attacked a BSF camp, set up for poll security in Dhansa Valley in Bihar’s Rohtas district, with rockets and other weapons, Rohtas Police Superintendent Vikas Vaibhav said.

Mr. Vaibhav, who is leading a team of central para-military forces, state police and a special task force in the forests around the scene of encounter, said the guerrillas surrounded the camp near Rohtasgarh fort, around 200 km. from Ranchi, and fired rockets at it.

The BSF personnel retaliated and the encounter that followed lasted for over three-and-a-half hours, he said, adding that the bodies of the 12 ultras were taken away by their colleagues into the forest. One BSF man was injured.

IG (Operations) S.K. Bharadwaj said two IAF helicopters have been pressed into service to assist the ground forces in tracking down the retreating naxalites and to airdrop men.

In Latehar district of Jharkhand, about 125 km. from Ranchi, the Maoists triggered a landmine blast leading to an exchange of fire with security forces in which two CRPF personnel, a civilian driver with the force and five naxalites were killed.

The Maoists first triggered the mine blast blowing up an empty bus of the CRPF heading to a poll cluster for Thursday’s polls in naxalite-affected Palamau constituency, killing the civilian driver. Latehar falls under the Palamau seat.

Immediately after the blast, 80 CRPF constables, who had earlier alighted from the bus fearing a naxalite attack since a road stretch had a sharp incline slowing down traffic and were walking behind the vehicle, took positions and fired on the extremists, Inspector General of Police (Provisions) S.N. Pradhan said.

CRPF sub-inspector Mahipal Singh and constable Dharmendar Yadav and five Maoists were killed in the exchange of fire, a CRPF spokesman said in New Delhi. Six injured naxalites were taken away by the extremists. Five CRPF personnel were also injured in the gunfight. — PTI

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