Friday, July 11, 2008

Chhattisgarh cops still missing after Maoist attack

Eight Special Police Officers (SPOs), who went missing after an attack by Maoist guerrillas, are yet to be traced despite a continuing search by the police on Thursday in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada district.

A constable was killed and eight SPOs went missing Wednesday after heavily armed Maoist guerrillas attacked a police team that was checking for explosives on roads that ran through a dense forest in restive Dantewada district, close to the Andhra Pradesh border, about 500 km south of state capital Raipur.

''Several police parties assisted by the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) combed a major portion of Konta forested belt to search for the missing SPOs. But the overnight and early morning operation was yet to produce any result,'' S I Baghel, additional superintendent of police, Dantewada, said.

The road-opening team led by Chhattisgarh police constable Dashruram Bhogami were on foot when armed insurgents, who were waiting atop a hill, opened fire. Bhogami, who received gun shots on his chest and leg, was killed on the spot.

Sources at the police headquarters here said the missing SPOs were either apprehended or killed by the insurgents.

But a senior police official hoped ''the SPOs might be safe somewhere in Dantewada's forests and waiting for the search parties to arrive''.

Maoists frequently attack the police, government buildings and politicians and call for shutdowns. They have been running a de facto administration in the interiors of the vast Bastar region, including Dantewada district, since 1980.

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