Indian police forces continue to suffer attacks by Naxal insurgent groups. Two ambush attacks by the Maoist groups that took place in the past 48 hours have claimed the lives of 18 members of Indian Police Forces (Jawans) and Special Police Officers (SPO). The two attacks were aimed at troops traveling in protected supply vehicles and armored trucks, supporting units deployed in the area.
The most recent attack took place last night in the Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district, when Naxals guerillas blew up a mine protected vehicle (MPV), killing seven SPOs and three policemen. Most casualties were suffered after the rebels stormed the vehicle, hitting the occupants trying to escape from the crippled vehicle. The vehicle was carrying 13 troops, the other three were injured in the attack. Two days earlier a similar attack claimed the lives of eight Jawans, wounding 13 more.
According to news sources, the MPV was hit by a large Improvised Explosive Device (IED), when it was approaching a bridge near Gatan village. Teams of guerillas standing by at the ambush site opened automatic fire, killing the troops that survived the blast. A day earlier Naxals guerillas conducted an attack near the Indian Armed Forces camp in the Naraynpur district, killing four jawans and leaving another injured. two days earlier, eight jawans of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force were killed and 13 were injured when their armored vehicle was hit by an IED in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh. The vehicle was hit when travelling on National Highway 16, near the Pedakodepal village, 14 km away from the district headquarters in Bijapur.
IEDs pose a major problem for the Indian security forces, as the Maoist guerillas adapt new, more powerful means countering heavier armored vehicles introduced by the authorities. The Indian police forces introduced basic armored vehicles with basic ‘anti-landmine’ capability, withstanding Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) weighing 12-15 kg. After encountering a growing threat of IEDs weighing 30-40 kilograms, the vehicle’s underbelly protection was beefed up. Now, Naxals have stepped up their attacks, burying 60-80 kilograms IEDs deeper underground, where detection is virtually impossible, seemingly challenging these vehicle’s protection beyond their design limits. Although the Indian home office has ordered hundreds of MPVs for the police and CRFP, these new vehicles have yet to reach the front lines.
While the armor cage effectively protects the vehicle from the explosion, the blast effect and secondary impact cause major injuries to the occupants, hit by flying debris or by impact with sharp, metal objects such as handles, equipment etc. Part of the vehicle modification is aimed at reducing these threats, by replacing metal objects with alternative parts developed for the automotive industry.
This deadliest series of attacks by the Maoist insurgents guerilla marks an increase in the conflict over the disputed area, the Indian security forces are waging counter-insurgency activities over more than four decades. The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), is now active in dozens of districts across the country, and its militant leaders expressed their commitment to continue attacks on security forces. Indian officials admit that the CPI-Maoist movement has gained control over the sparsely populated, forested interiors of mineral-rich Bastar region, gaining the backing and support of local tribal population.
The Indian actions in the region, waged mainly by CRFP, suffered a major blow April 6, as an 84 men CRFP patrol was annihilated after walking into a a Maoist ambush in the village of Chintalnar in Dantewada. 76 members of the unit were killed in the fight, which lasted couple of hours as the men were surrounded and trapped by the ambush. After the policemen ran out of ammunition, the Maoists moved in from the hills, shot the injured and looted weapons. Only seven CRPF men survived the fight, after reinforcements managed to arrive at the scene. The reinforcements could retrieve only three weapons from the scene. CRFP investigation indicated that the armed People’s Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA) cadres numbered close to 350 who were assisted by about 200 local militia and from nearby villages. The Maoist ambush took place three weeks after the CRFP penetrated into the Maoist controlled area, killing 36 insurgents. 3 SPOs were killed and 9 others were injured in these fights. The death toll from the Maoist insurgency in Chhattisgarh continued increasing in May, with rebels attacks killing 50 people throughout the region, mostly security forces.