Hyderabad, Aug. 24: Heavily-armed rebels of the People’s War Group struck late last night, blasting two police stations and a sub-treasury office before abducting four constables and a homeguard in the Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh.
According to information with the district headquarters, 65 People’s Guerrilla Army rebels of the Naxalite PWG attacked police stations in Anakapally and Chodavaram, about 20 km apart, around 11.30 pm. Anakapally, a town on the Howrah highway, is known for its jaggery.
The extremists, who came in a lorry, a minibus and four motorcycles, ransacked the police station buildings, looted arms depots and released some undertrials. They left a note at the police station of Chodavaram, saying they would soon communicate their demands for the release of the policemen.
Director-general of police P. Ramulu, who reached the scene of the attacks this morning, has ordered a full investigation. Special anti-Naxalite squads of the greyhound corps have already been mobilised.
The state home minister today reviewed the situation at a high-level meeting of senior police officials. He talked to the families of the kidnapped policemen and assured them all efforts will be made to get them released. The police have already approached civil liberties leaders for negotiating with the Naxalites.
The ease with which the Naxalites carried out the simultaneous attacks stunned police officials. “It is not a joke to transport 65 members in open vehicles with arms,” Ramulu said.
The rebels who attacked the sub-treasury building in Chodavaram were dressed as policemen, thus making their access to the building easy.
District officials also said there was scant police presence as this was not an area known for PWG activities. The neighbouring Srikakulam district was a Naxalite base in the early sixties, when the rebels even declared an independent state of Srikakulam, though only for a few hours.
According to officials, the kidnap of the policemen, the first since the recent abortive efforts for dialogue between the PWG and the government, reflected a change of tactic: striking in areas away from known Naxalite bases.
“Their movement in lorries, minibus and motorcycles shows that they all had come from a long distance on the highway,” district collector Atul Singh said. The DGP has asked the police to be on high alert and ordered intensive checking of all heavy vehicles and minibuses travelling on the highway.