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Fright stalls Greyhound force action

Raipur/Bhubaneswar, July 6: The attack on jawans of the Greyhound force of Andhra Pradesh has put brakes on inter-state joint operations against Naxalites.

“The Greyhound has decided to stop all inter-state joint operations going on in other Naxalite-hit states of central India,” a senior intelligence official told The Telegraph. The force has decided to conduct a review before restoring the operation, the official added.

The decision was taken after the Balimela (Malkangiri) attack in which more than 24 jawans are feared dead. The jawans were crossing the reservoir in a boat when rebels ambushed them and the boat capsized.

The jawans were returning after conducting a joint operation with Orissa police when the biggest attack on the force till date took place.

“The Andhra Pradesh home department had reservations regarding joint operations with other states since the inception of the force,” the official said, adding that the department would now have reasons to defend it stand.

After a weeklong search operation with divers of the Indian Navy and a private agency in Visakhapatnam, another body was fished out from the reservoir today.

Personnel continued combing operations in the area and gunned down a rebel in an exchange of fire in the forests near MV-81 in Malkangiri. The rebel’s body has been recovered.

“We believe more were killed,” said police superintendent S.K. Gajbhiye, adding that the search was on.

Meanwhile, efforts to retrieve the sunken boat continued with equipment procured from Visakhapatnam and Singapore.

A MI-17 chopper and a heavy duty helicopter would be used to lift the boat from the bed soon, sources said. So far, the fear of bad weather conditions has delayed the use of a hot-air balloon from Singapore with which authorities plan to lift the launch.

With the recovery of today’s body, the official death toll has gone up to 24. Divers pulled out the body after breaking open a portion of the sunken boat. “With today’s recovery, 14 more personnel remain untraceable,” said Gajbhiye.

Twenty-eight of the 66 persons on board had managed to swim ashore.

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