Monday, February 21, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

23 cops killed in landmine blast
Worst-ever strike by Naxals

JAGDALPUR, Feb 20 (PTI, UNI) — In the worst-ever incident of Naxalite violence in Madhya Pradesh, 23 police personnel, including an Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP), were killed today in a landmine explosion set off by the outlawed ultras in Bastar district.

The police said 21 police personnel died on the spot and two succumbed to his injuries in a hospital.

Those killed included ASP, Bhaskar Diwan, one sub-inspector, an assistant sub-inspector and two head constables.

The team of 24 police personnel led by the ASP was travelling in a vehicle after receiving information that a group of Naxalites was hiding in a village near Narayanpur.

When the vehicle reached a place, about 10 km from Narayanpur, the landmine went off blowing it up to pieces, the police said.

The incident was the second major strike by the PWG Naxalites since Madhya Pradesh Transport Minister Likhiram Kavre was shot dead at his native village Sohanpuri in Balaghat district in December last.

The Additional Director-General of Police (Intelligence), Mr A.N. Singh, said the landmine, laid by Naxals, blew up the vehicle which was carrying around 40 police personnel, on a patrol duty near Narayanpur in Bastar district bordering Andhra Pradesh.

A manhunt has been launched for the Naxals, Mr Singh said.

Madhya Pradesh Governor Bhai Mahavir, Chief Minister Digvijay Singh and other leaders expressed grief over the death of 22 policemen.

Condemning the act, Dr Bhai Mahavir said the Naxalites could never achieve their goal by adopting violence.

Chief Minister Digvijay Singh said a high-level team was sent to the spot to assess the situation.

Meanwhile, with the death of 22 policemen in the blast, more than 150 persons, including 122 policemen, have been killed so far in Naxalites violence in the past decade in Madhya Pradesh.

In the Naxalite-infested tribal Bastar division alone, 86 persons, most of them policemen, were killed in several landmine blasts.

Official sources said a maximum of 12 landmine explosions took place in Bastar division. The PWG was behind almost all these explosions.

This is the second major incident of violence in the state within two months. Earlier, state Transport Minister Likhiram Kavre was hacked to death by suspected Naxalites at his native Sonpuri village in Balaghat district on December 15.

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