The Hyderabad and Cyberabad police sounded a red alert even as Maoists burnt down five State Road Transport Corporation buses and damaged three others on the outskirts of Hyderabad late on Friday night in protest against the killing of top Janashakti leader Riyaz in an encounter.
A group of 15 Maoists belonging to the Rachakonda dalam (armed squad) stopped the SRTC buses by placing boulders across the road at Toopranpet near Choutuppal on the Hyderabad-Vijayawada National Highway No 9 around 10 pm.
After forcing the passengers to get down, the Maoists set fire to five buses and damaged three others.
The driver of a Kakinada-bound bus was thrashed for not opening the door immediately. The passengers were stranded for some time.
Maoists raised slogans against Chief Minister Dr Y S Rajasekhar Reddy and the police for the killing of naxalites in 'fake encounters'.
They also wrote on the statistical record of a conductor that their action was in retaliation of the killing of Riyaz in Karimnagar district.
The SRTC officials said the torched vehicles included a Volvo bus, two hi-tech buses, an express bus and an ordinary bus. The loss was estimated at Rs 1 crore.
Maoists later blasted a telephone tower of Tata Telecom at nearby Malkapur, partially damaging it.
Following the incident, vehicular traffic came to a standstill on the national highway.
Choutuppal police swung into action to clear the traffic. Nalgonda district officer on special duty rushed to the spot with reinforcements.
Greyhounds (elite anti-extremist commandos) took up combing operations against the Rachakonda dalam in the area.
Following the Choutuppal incidents, the Hyderabad and Cyberabad police intensified the patrolling on all highways connected to the state capital and sounded a red alert.
Security has been stepped up at vital installations and the residences of VIPs.
Meanwhile, in an exchange of fire with the Maoists in Vizianagaram district on Friday night, a Greyhounds constable was killed and another constable was injured.
The encounter took place at Puliputti near Neelakanthapuram in Kurupam mandal on the Andhra-Orissa border.
The Greyhounds were combing the forests when they came across the Maoists and the exchange of fire ensued.
The encounter lasted for about an hour. One constable died. Another constable who sustained bullet injuries was later
rushed to the area hospital at Parvathipuram.
In all the naxalite-affected districts, the police sounded a high alert and advised all those on the hit-lit of Maoists to leave for safer places and not venture into interior areas without prior permission.