Midnapore/Calcutta, Feb. 25: In one of the biggest offensives on Bengal’s police and paramilitary, suspected guerrillas of the People’s War and the Maoist Communist Centre today blew up a trekker on a highway in West Midnapore, killing eight people.
Two policemen and five jawans are among the dead. The police officers and Eastern Frontier Rifles jawans were on their way to Kankrajhore, bordering east Singhbhum, to shift a BSF camp when their trekker rolled over a landmine. The vehicle and its occupants were blown into smithereens and a truck following close behind badly damaged.
A sub-inspector, an assistant sub-inspector and five jawans were killed in the incident, which took place this afternoon at Nundhola in the Belpahari police station area, 240 km from Calcutta. The driver of the trekker, Ramesh Mandi, was also killed.
Four other jawans in the truck were seriously wounded. The guerrillas fired on the forces before disappearing into the jungles along the highway that connects Midnapore town with Purulia.
A senior police officer said the bodies of the killed jawans were badly mangled, making identification difficult. The policemen have been identified as SI Satyabrata Mondal and assistant SI Madhusudan Konar.
A grim-faced chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who is also the police minister, confirmed the deaths this evening. “It was a very big explosion. The attack was definitely the handiwork of PW-MCC activists and senior police officers have rushed to the spot,” he said.
Inspector-general of police (law and order) Chayan Mukherjee said he could not recall such a “big incident” in the recent past. “It appears the PW-MCC activists had information about the movement of the forces,” an official said.