Last year, 72 CRPF jawans lost their lives in attacks by Maoists and other terror outfits across the country.

New Delhi: The Maoist strike in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district killing nine CRPF personnel Tuesday is suspected to be in retaliation of an anti-Naxal operation in Bijapur that eliminated 10 rebels, including six women, earlier this month.

The operation was carried out in Tadapalagutta-Pujari Kanker forest areas in Bijapur district, bordering Telangana on 2 March.

Last year, 72 CRPF jawans lost their lives in attacks by Maoists and other terror outfits across the country.

According to CRPF officers, these attacks have become more frequent in Chhattisgarh because the force has now reached the core area of the Maoists.

In one of the cases reported in April 2017, 26 CRPF jawans from the 74th battalion were killed while they were providing security to a road building project.

In March 2017, 12 CRPF personnel of a road opening party were again ambushed in Sukma.

“Earlier, the force never went to their core area that includes Abujhmad forests. We had very little access to this zone that includes Palodi, which is the southernmost tip of Sukma, bordering Telangana,” said an officer.

“The force has succeeded in making inroads and thus is facing retaliation from them,” the officer added.

CRPF sources, however, claimed that lack of support from the local police is a major concern. In the past, the force had asked the home ministry to ensure that 33 per cent of the local police personnel accompany CRPF in anti-Maoist operations.

In many operations, the state police allegedly refuse to send its men, who are locals, leading to casualties as the personnel in CRPF are not so well versed with the area’s topography. The problem, however, remains unresolved as the state police do not have the strength.

“It is a war. Casualties on both sides are inevitable. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes they do,” said Moses Dinakaran, DIG, CRPF.

It was around 12.30 pm Tuesday, when a mine protected vehicle (MPV) from the 212 battalion was blown off. The victims were on a combing operation near Kistaram, a Maoist stronghold.

According to senior CRPF officers, more than 30 kg of high-intensity explosives, triggered by several IEDs, were used to blow off the MPV, which usually withstands a 20 Kg TNT blast.

“As part of an ongoing operation in Sukma, a team from 208 CoBRA had initially gone to the area around 8.30 am today. During the operation, the Maoists struck and there was an exchange of fire between the two parties,” Dinankaran said.

“One of the Maoists was killed although we did not recover his body. But there was no casualty on our side,” he added.

Around 12.30 pm, another team from 21 battalion went towards Palodi in Sukma for a combing operation when its vehicle was blown up by the Maoists, he added.

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