New Delhi: Twenty-five CRPF personnel were killed in a horrific attack unleashed by the Maoists on Monday, their second major assault of the year 2017.
Sher Mohammad, a CRPF soldier and a survivor, told the media that there were close to 300 Naxals when the jawans came under attack, while they were busy constructing a road. "First Naxals sent a villager to check our locations. Women Naxals were also there," he said, adding that the CRPF also killed many Naxals.
"In retaliatory firing, we also killed many of them. At least 3-4 Naxals were shot in the chest," he said.
"We have lost twenty-six men in the encounter. As of now, we know that these men were out for a road opening task and they came under heavy fire from Naxalites...," CRPF Deputy Inspector General M. Dinakaran said.
Taking stock of the situation, home minister Rajnath Singh said that he had spoken to the home secretary about the incident. "We are taking this attack as a challenge, we will talk to Raman Singh and decide about my visit to Raipur."
Condolences from across the political spectrum poured in as the leaders came to know about the attack. Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter, calling it a "cowardly and deplorable" attack on the CRPF personnel.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal condoled with the victims and their families on Twitter, calling the violence "in any form unacceptable".
My heart goes out for the families of Sukma martyrs. Violence in any form is completely unacceptable.— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) April 24, 2017
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi expressed condolences to the families of martyred CRPF personnel, saluting the "sacrifice and courage of Bravehearts."
My sincere condolences to the families of CRPF personnel martyred in the attack in #Sukma.We salute the sacrifice&courage of our bravehearts https://t.co/fTx6JOc9hz— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) April 24, 2017
This was the second major attack on CRPF personnel in 2017. On March 11, twelve CRPF personnel were killed in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh after the Naxals ambushed a CRPF patrol party in the Maoist hotbed and looted their arms. Four personnel were also injured in the attack.
In 2010, in the worst attack on CRPF, 76 men died in Dantewada as they were on an area domination exercise.