In the biggest ever strike by Maoists on security forces in Chhattisgarh, at least 55 police personnel were killed and 11 injured today when more than 300 heavily armed rebels stormed a police station in the Bastar region.
The naxalites, led by the military wing of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist attacked Rani Bodli police outpost, 525 km from Raipur, in the wee hours of Thursday, police sources told PTI on phone from Bijapur district.
"There was fierce fighting by both sides, but when the security forces ran out of ammunition, the rebels lobbed grenades and petrol bombs on the barracks. The policemen were forced to come out from the shelter after it caught fire, and were subsequently killed in firing by the Naxalites," a source said.
Sixteen Chhattisgarh Armed Force jawans and 39 special police officers were killed, while four CAF jawans and seven officers were injured in the incident. Nine other policemen who were at the outpost escaped without any injuries.
The Naxalites looted 48 weapons from the security forces, including rifles and a two-inch mortar, the sources said.
This was the biggest attack by the rebels in Chhattisgarh since the state was formed on November 1, 2000. The killing of 55 security personnel has put the state government in an embarrassing position.
After the incident, state police officers sought tougher steps by the government to deal with the Naxalite menace. Talking to PTI, several senior police officers suggested a total overhaul of the state government's policy for dealing with Naxalites and said the Maoists were no longer 'a local force.'
"The Naxalites are not a local militia. They are working more on the line of a military wing of any well trained organisation. Keeping this in mind, police and the state government need to change their strategy," one officer said.
The officers felt the state government should stop experiments on the Naxal issue and said people, who had a fair idea about the style of functioning of the rebels, should be included in anti-Maoist operations and field duty in insurgency-hit areas.
In the past 22 months, the state had witnessed as many as 1,187 incidents of violence related to Naxalites, in which at least 676 people were killed, official reports said.
During 2005-06, a total of 243 civilians, 43 Naxalites and 65 security personnel were killed while at least 226 civilians, 76 Naxalites and 23 security personnel were killed this fiscal up to February 4, the reports said.
Similarly, in 2005-06, a total of 639 violent incidents occurred whereas 548 such incidents were recorded up to February 4 in 2006-07.