Sukma (Chhattisgarh), March 11 (IANS) In one of the biggest Maoist attacks in the past two years, 12 CRPF personnel were killed and four injured in an ambush by the rebels in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh on Saturday, a senior police officer said.
The injured were brought to state capital Raipur by helicopter for better treatment.
The ambush took place in a forested patch near Kottacheru village under Bhejji police station, around 500 km from the state capital, at 9.15 a.m. when 112 personnel of the CRPF's 219th battalion were on a road opening duty.
"The martyred troops were part of a contingent of 112 personnel that has been securing an under-construction road between Bhejji and Kottacheru. Maoists set off multiple hidden IEDs and opened indiscriminate fire. The squad strongly retaliated before the 12 troops made the supreme sacrifice," said officiating CRPF DG Sudeep Lakhtakia.
The Maoists also looted 11 rifles from the jawans killed in the two-hour long gunfight.
Lakhtakia added that Maoists were trying to disrupt normal life in Sukma area as the CRPF has strengthened its presence there.
The CRPF has launched a massive offensive in Sukma after the attack. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh arrived in Sukma later in the day to assess the situation.
Condoling the deaths, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: "Saddened by the killing of CRPF personnel in Sukma. Tributes to the martyrs and condolences to their families. May the injured recover quickly."
"Spoke to Home Minister Rajnath Singh Ji on the situation in Sukma. He is going to Sukma to take stock of the situation," he said.
The Home Minister earlier tweeted: "Deeply pained to learn of the killing of CRPF personnel in Sukma. My heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased."
Praising the personnel who died, Chief Minister Raman Singh said: "The CRPF jawans have displayed immense courage and indomitable spirit."
Congress President Sonia Gandhi strongly condemned the killing of the CRPF men and described it as a dastardly and cowardly act. She saluted the sacrifice of the CRPF men "for their supreme and unforgettable sacrifices" and said her thoughts and prayers were with the families of the victims.
"India stands united in fight against the terrorism and the government should give a befitting reply to the forces spreading terror in India", she added in a message, according to tweets by the Congress party.
Sukma is one of the seven districts of Maoist-infested mineral-rich Bastar region.