(Eds: adding details, CM's reaction) Raipur, Mar 23 (PTI) Five police personnel were killed and 13 others injured as Naxals blew up the bus in which they were traveling in Chhattisgarh's Narayanpur district on Tuesday, senior police officials said.
The landmine explosions took place between Kanhargaon and Kadenar villages under Dhaudai police station limits.
Personnel of the police's District Reserve Guard (DRG) were returning in the bus to Narayanpur town, 300 km away from capital Raipur, after a counter-insurgency operation, said Inspector General of Police (Bastar range) Sundarraj P.
'Five DRG personnel, including the driver, were killed in the explosions,' he told PTI.
Reinforcement was rushed to the spot and bodies and injured personnel were evacuated from the forest.
The injured personnel are being airlifted to Raipur in an Indian Air Force chopper for treatment, the IG added.
Sundarraj said a joint team of security forces from Narayanpur and neighbouring Dantewada district had launched an anti-Naxal operation on the border of two districts on Monday.
Around 3 pm on Tuesday, security forces from Narayanpur returned to Kademeta camp. Those belonging to the DRG unit of the district headquarter proceeded in a bus, he said.
Around 4.15 pm, Naxals triggered three blasts targeting the bus which had some 25 personnel onboard.
Those killed were identified as Head Constables Pavan Mandavi and Jailal Uikey, constables Karah Dehari and Seval Salaam and assistant constable Vijay Patel.
The bus was passing along the under-construction Barsoor-Palli road which is surrounded by dense forests of Abhujmad when the naxals triggered the blasts, another official said. The impact was such that it fell off the culvert.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel condemned the attack.
'Maoists are frustrated as they are losing ground due to continuous operations by the security forces in the region. This act is an outcome of desperation. Operations against the Naxals will be intensified,' he said in a statement.
Baghel also spoke to Director General of Police D M Awasthi and asked him to take necessary steps, the statement said.
The CM conveyed his condolences to the families of the martyred personnel and directed officials to ensure the best possible treatment for the injured, the release said.
This was the second major Naxal attack on DRG personnel - the frontline anti-Naxal force of the state police -- in the span of one year.
The DRG personnel are recruited from among local youth and surrendered Naxals in Bastar division.
On March 21, 2020, 17 security personnel, including 12 from DRG, were killed in a Naxal ambush in Sukma district of the region. PTI TKP KRK KRK