Four civilians and a Central Industrial Security Force jawan were killed when suspected Naxals blew up a bus with an improvised explosive device in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district on Thursday, four days ahead of the first phase of assembly polls in the state, police said.
Two personnel of the CISF were also injured in the explosion, the third Naxal attack in 15 days in the poll-bound state.
The attack comes before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled visit on Friday to Jagdalpur district, about 100 km from Dantewada, to campaign for the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The IED explosion took place in a hilly area in Bacheli when the CISF personnel, belonging to 502nd battalion, were returning to their camp in Akashnagar area after purchasing groceries from a local market, said Dantewada Superintendent of Police Abhishek Pallava.
The Naxals triggered a powerful IED blast near curve no 6 on the hills, he said.
Those killed in the blast were identified as CISF Head Constable D Mukhopadhyay, bus driver Ramesh Patkar, helpers Roshan Kumar Sahu and Johan Nayak, and a truck driver, Sushil Banjare, the SP said.
The truck driver had taken lift in the bus, another police official said.
Two CISF constables -- Pathare Satish and Pishal Suresh -- were injured in the attack, Pallava said.
Reinforcements were rushed to the spot and the injured personnel and bodies of the deceased shifted to a local hospital, he said.
Security forces have launched a combing operation in the area to trace the ultras, the officer added.
According to another police official, the CISF personnel were from the ‘B’ company of 502nd battalion, which had arrived from Kolkata to Dantewada for election duty.
The company has been deployed in the iron ore deposit no.10 area on the Bailadila hills.
The CISF has been guarding iron ore facilities of the National Mining Development Corporation in the Bailadila hills of Dantewada.
On October 30, three police personnel and a cameraman of national broadcaster Doordarshan were killed in a Maoist attack in Dantewada’s Aranpur area.
Before that, on October 27, four Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed and two others injured after Maoists blew up their bulletproof bunker vehicle in Bijapur district.
Naxalites have asked voters to boycott the upcoming state assembly polls, being held in two phases on November 12 and November 20.
The first phase is to be held in 18 Naxal-affected constituencies of Madhya Pradesh’s Bastar region, that falls in the southern part of the central state.
The remaining 72 constituencies will go to the polls on November 20 and the votes will be counted on December 11.