Bhubaneswar, July 30: In one of the worst assaults by Naxalites in recent times, 10 policemen were killed in a landmine blast in Malkangiri district today. The blast is suspected to be the handiwork of the People’s War Group (PWG).
The patrol van was passing through the Vejingibada forest area when the blast occurred between 1.30 and 2.00 pm.
Eight officers died on the spot while two died at Malkangiri hospital.
One sub-inspector, one assistant sub-inspector, two constables, a homeguard of Orissa police and five jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force were in the van.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 1 lakh each for the families of the victims.
The policemen, who were patrolling the area under Kalimela police station, walked into a booby trap planted by the extremists.
With the extremist movement ebbing over the past few months following heightened police activity and the arrest and surrender of about 100 Naxalites, today’s blast is being seen as a notice to the cops, police officials said.
Orissa director-general of police .C. Padhi said security has been beefed up in the Malkangiri and Raygada districts after today’s attack.
A red alert had been sounded in these two districts in the wake of the PWG’s preparation to observe Martyrs’ week from July 28 to August 5.
Sources said Naxals of different dalams and PWG cadre have geared up activities in Gudari, Gunupur, Ravanaguda, Gathalpadar, Chandili, Motu, Podia, Kalimela, Chitrokonda, Janvai, MV 79, Naryanpatana, Bandhugam and Nandpuar villages bordering Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to observe Martyrs’ week.
The extremists had distributed anti-government pamphlets in parts of Raygada district on Monday and were seen motivating tribals to join their fold.
Intelligence officials had alerted the district administrations of Raygada, Malkangiri and Koraput about the PWG’s plans to target government properties like panchayat offices, banks, police stations and buses.