Raipur: Maoists on Sunday struck thrice in their stronghold in Chhattisgarh, killing at least 36 policemen, including a Superintendent of Police, in landmine attacks followed by indiscriminate firing.
All three attacks took place in the Manpur belt in the Rajnandgaon district, bordering Maharashtra.
"A contingent of the District Force (DF) and Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) drove into a booby trap laid by Maoists in a thickly forested area in Rajnandgaon district, in which 25 jawans were killed," Girdhari Nayak, additional director general of police, told IANS.
Insurgents killed at least four policemen in two other separate attacks while a few policemen are reported to be missing.
Rajnandgaon Superintendent of Police (SP) Binod Kumar Choubey was among the victims. This is for the first time in over three decades of Maoist militancy in Chhattisgarh that a police official of this high rank was killed by the radical Leftists.
"Over 200 heavily armed cadres of the CPI-Maoist's People's Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA) first attacked the SP's convoy comprising about 100 policemen with powerful land mines and then opened indiscriminate firing," a police officer based at Rajnandgaon said by telephone.
"Though policemen returned fire, they were soon overpowered," the officer said. Maoists walked away with weapons of the dead policeman.
The death of Choubey, who had earned reputation as one of the sharp and daredevil police officers in the state, has shaken up the force. All high-ranking officials, including Director General of Police Vishwaranjan and Home Minister Nankiram Kanwar, rushed to the attack site.
Several injured were admitted to the Rajnandgaon district hospital while a few others were airlifted to state capital Raipur for advanced medical attention.
Chhattisgarh's opposition Congress sought imposition of the President's rule in the state saying the Bharatiya Janata Party government had failed to check Maoist militancy.
Chief Minister Raman Singh cancelled his trip to Nagpur scheduled for Sunday afternoon after the attack.
The central government had banned the Communist Party of India (Maoist) last month after the ultras came to control Lalgarh area in West Bengal.