Maoist attack: Prime Minister, Sonia Gandhi to visit Chhattisgarh

New Delhi, May 26 (ANI): Following Saturday's tragic and dastardly attack on Congress leaders and activists by Maoists in Chhattisgarh, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi will visit state capital Raipur on Sunday to offer their condolences and support to families of those killed and injured.

The Maoist attack claimed the lives of 17 persons, including some state party leaders.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is in Raipur to take stock of the situation arising out of the attack.

Heavily-armed Maoists ambushed a convoy of Congress leaders inside a dense forest in Chhattisgarh's Bastar district on Saturday, killing at least 17 people, including senior Congress leader Mahendra Karma.

The Maoists also kidnapped state Congress president Nand Kumar Patel and his son Dinesh during the attack, which took place in Darba Gati Valley near Jagdalpur, the headquarters of Bastar District.

Apart from Karma, a former legislator was also killed. Senior Congress leader and former cabinet minister V.C. Shukla was critically injured in the incident. Shukla was shot at thrice, including bullet wounds in the stomach and back, and has been airlifted to Raipur and then to New Delhi for better medical treatment.

Nineteen others, including policemen were also injured in the attack.

According to latest reports, Patel's son Dinesh has been released.

Suspected Naxals attacked the Congress rally in Dharba valley of Chhattisgarh's Sukma district.

Police said a convoy of cars carrying top Congress leaders of the state was headed to Jagdalpur when there was a landmine blast, followed by heavy firing.

Karma was a local tribal leader who spearheaded the controversial anti-Naxalite movement - Salwa Judum. He had served as the state's home minister when the Congress was in power.

He had Z plus security, which meant that at least 30 policeman guarded him.

Reports suggest that Karma's security men fired at the suspected Naxals, but soon ran out of ammunition, and he was then shot dead at point blank range.

A meeting was held late last evening at the Prime Minister's 7 Race Course Road residence in New Delhi. It was attended by top Congress leaders, including party president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi.

Prime Minister Singh has spoken to the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh of the BJP and offered to send additional security forces.

Raman Singh presided over an emergency Cabinet meeting in Raipur.

Meanwhile Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh have alleged that party leaders were not provided adequate security by the ruling BJP dispensation despite Naxal threats.

A shaken Ajit Jogi, a former chief minister, who was present at the rally, said, "I can't believe that people who I met just a few hours earlier have been attacked." (ANI)