AGPUR: Naxalites triggered a powerful Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast in Pustola, 38 kms from Gadchiroli in eastern Vidarbha killing 12 and injuring around 28 personnel of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on Tuesday morning, official sources said.
The landmine blast blew up a mini-bus ferrying the jawans in Pustola, near Yedampayali, between Karwafa and Phulbodi Gatta, considered as one of the most sensitive Maoist locations in the district.
The attack against the CRPF comes following the Naxal threats that the rebel group would repeat the massacre of Laheri where 17 police personnel were killed in October 2009. The Left wing guerrillas had vowed to avenge the killings of their ‘comrades’ at the hands of the security forces.
The bus, part of a security convoy, was heading to Gatta when the incident took place. The Naxals also opened fired on the blast-hit convoy. The explosion was heard in the neighbouring villages.
The security parties, initially taken aback by the strong blast, launched a counter attack to keep the Naxals at bay who were closing up with random firing.
The blast intriguingly took place within a day of the visit of the minister of the rural development Jairam Ramesh in the district. The minister’s name figures in the Naxal hit list, according to intelligence reports.
Rescue and reinforcement team was rushed to the spot after the information was shared with the Gadchiroli headquarters. The security forces had immediately conducted a cordoned search in the adjoining jungles and kick-started an operation in the area.
The injured jawans were flown to Gadchiroli district hospital from where they were sent to Nagpur.
Senior officials have cautioned the forces of hidden land mines which Naxals may have already planted in the region, anticipating a search following the blast.