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Marandi ambush scare

Giridih/Dhanbad/Ranchi, Sept. 6: Former chief minister Babulal Marandi and industry minister Ravindra Rai had a close shave this morning after an advance police party, sent to sanitise the route to his janata durbar, was ambushed in the Isree police station area, 80 km from Giridih.

BJP national vice president Marandi, who has been addressing rallies against extremists in Jharkhand, was on his way to Seva Tand when a series of explosions occurred. He was 15 minutes from the site where landmines exploded near a bridge between Nayanpur and Lokahi.

Head constable Clement Soren and a villager, Somra Kisku, were killed but it is not clear whether they died in the blasts. Both their bodies were riddled with bullet injuries.

Suspected extremists, who had taken position in the adjacent forests, next opened fire and dragged away a local BJP leader, Mahendra Sharma, hacking him to death.

A CRPF contingent, which reached the spot soon afterwards, returned fire. The encounter, in which the rebels are believed to have used LMGs, lasted over three hours. A CRPF jawan was injured. He is out of danger and has been rushed to Ranchi.

Director general of police R.R. Prasad said in Ranchi the advance police team was moving ahead of Marandi, who was on his second padayatra in the district. The blast site chosen by the Naxalites is just 7 km from Marandi’s home village.

Mahendra Sharma, a local BJP leader, was injured when the extremists opened fire. But instead of running away, he rushed towards the extremists. He was dragged into the jungles and hacked with sharp-edged weapons. His body has been recovered.

The police also claimed to have recovered a self loading rifle, a hand grenade and 50 metres of wire used by the extremists to blow up the land mines. “We are confident there are casualties and injuries among the extremists too, which possibly forced them to retreat,” a senior police officer said.

The MCC has not yet owned responsibility for the blast.

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