As many as 16 security personnel were killed after Maoists triggered an IED blast on a police vehicle in Maharashtra's Gadchiroli district on Wednesday. The blast took place between Jamborkheda and Lendhari of the district when the group of security personnel stepped out for their patrolling duty. The exchange of fire was underway between police and Maoists when the last reports came in.
Earlier, it was reported that the killed personnel belonged to the Gadchiroli C-60 Force. However, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis later clarified that all of the 16 personnel were from Quick Response Team (QRT).
Criticising the deadly attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "Strongly condemn the despicable attack on our security personnel in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra. I salute all the brave personnel. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten. My thoughts & solidarity are with the bereaved families. The perpetrators of such violence will not be spared".
Taking to twitter, the Congress also denounced the blast, saying, "We are deeply saddened by the deadly attack on our jawans. We strongly condemn this act of violence and salute our brave hearts for their sacrifice and service".
The incident comes hours after the rebels torched around 25 vehicles of a road construction company in the district, police said. The vehicles were burnt at Dadapur in Kurkheda tehsil.
Speaking to media, Shailesh Balkawade, Superintendent of Police, Gadchiroli said, "A group of Maoists gathered around 3.30 am at Dadapur where the construction of a national highway has been going on since the last few months".
They torched the vehicles, which were parked along the road, using kerosene and diesel, the Balkawade said. "After setting the vehicles on fire, the Naxals escaped into the forest. A search operation has been launched," he added. A formal complaint about the incident is yet to be lodged.
On April 11, an encounter broke out between CRPF personnel and rebels in the Maoist hit district of Gadchiroli. In January this year, Maoists set ablaze vehicles in the villages of Kurkheda, Korchi and Potegaon in the district.