Patna/Bhagalpur, Dec. 25: Naxalites gunned down a GRP jawan, injured another and snatched away assault rifles and ammunition in a daring afternoon attack on the Bhagalpur-Muzaffarpur Intercity Express near Jamalpur, Bihar, today.
Police said at least 30 armed members of the CPI(Maoist) swooped on the train between Ghoghal and Jamalpur on the Jamalpur-Keul section of East Central Railway. They cut the vacuum pipe, bringing the Muzaffapur-bound train to a halt, and waited till the GRP jawans, on escort duty, alighted from the coach to find out what was wrong. As soon as they did, the rebels started raining bullets.
Munger superintendent of police Sunil Nayak said that though taken by surprise, the jawans retaliated. The gunfight last for more than 30 minutes, he said. More than 20 rounds were fired. While GRP constable Ganesh Singh was killed in the encounter, another jawan was wounded.
Though Nayak claimed that no passenger sustained injuries, an unconfirmed reports said two took bullets. A report also claimed that four GRP men were injured in the incident.
After overpowering the jawans, the Naxalites snatched away at least four assault rifles, a carbine and several rounds of ammunition.
Railway officials said the attack delayed the train for three hours. It resumed its journey at 6pm after senior GRP officers and railway officials inspected the site.
A senior railway official admitted that the CPI(Maoist) had spread its tentacles in large parts of the hilly Jamalpur sub-division in Munger district.
Villagers of Abhaypur and Dharhara said they had spotted unidentified people carrying arms on Tuesday. Naxalites often organise training camps on hillocks, they said, and blamed the police for not paying heed to the rising threat from the rebels.
Maoist guerrillas beheaded two villagers and shot dead a man and his son in two separate incidents in Gumla district of Jharkhand early this morning.
The first incident took place at Govindpur while the second occurred at Srinagar village, about 17km away. Two of the victims have been identified as former armyman Augustine Ekka (50) and his son, James (20).
Sources said the rebels suspected the father-son duo to be police informers.
Police spokesperson and I.G (provision) S.N. Pradhan said all the four bodies had been sent for post-mortem. Paramilitary jawans have been deployed in the area.
Police and suspected Maoists today exchanged several rounds of fire in Chichikala forest in the Katkamsandi police station area of Hazaribagh.
Though unofficial reports claimed that six members of the CPI(Maoist) were killed in the firing, superintendent of police Pankaj Kamboj did not confirm the toll. There was a gun battle between our men and extremists, but we did not recover a single body from the site, he said.