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The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rebels use body as IED

- Unconfirmed reports put Latehar death toll at 22

Ranchi, Jan. 8: The encounter between Maoists and security forces in the forests of Latehar ended early this morning amid conflicting reports about the number of casualties, only to be followed by the horrific discovery that the rebels had strapped explosives on the body of at least one dead jawan, which resulted in the death of an innocent villager.

Though director general of police G.S. Rath claimed five security personnel had died, 15 injured and four were missing, unconfirmed reports said at least 22 CRPF jawans had been killed, 16 were injured and several still missing.

Around 3pm, as security forces carried out combing operations in the forests of Amuatikar, about 40km from the district headquarters in Barwadih police station area of Latehar, where the overnight encounter took place, they came across the bodies of two jawans. Villager Gani Singh, Pramod Prasad and Vijay Tiwary, who were assisting the security personnel, tried to move the bodies, when one exploded, killing Singh on the spot and seriously injuring the two others.

According to local residents, CRPF and Jharkhand Jaguar jawans present at the spot immediately took up position and opened fire anticipating another Maoist attack, but stopped after 10 minutes when the fire was not returned.

A senior CRPF officer monitoring the search operation would not confirm the incident. “I have also heard about it but officially I am not in a position to confirm it,” he said.

Rath, however, admitted that the Maoist’s used human bodies to fit bombs, which exploded during search operations, killing one.

Palamau DIG Praveen Kumar confirmed the incident. “It is the most inhuman thing the Maoists could have done. They have not left the bodies for the last rites. They should be condemned for this act,” he said.

Meanwhile, villagers claimed the four securitymen officially missing had been killed by the Maoists. They also said the bodies of as many as 13 CRPF jawans were still lying in different parts of the forest.

Sources at Apollo Hospital said as many as 20 jawans were sent to Apollo today from Daltonganj. Of the 20, five were declared brought dead, while 15 were admitted for treatment. Two are critical.