17 Chhattisgarh cops injured in landmine blast (Lead)

October 31st, 2008 - 3:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Raipur, Oct 31 (IANS) At least 17 policemen suffered minor injuries Friday when Maoist rebels detonated a powerful landmine in southern Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region.The attack took place on a state highway in Narayanpur district, 250 km south of state capital Raipur.

“It was a huge blast but fortunately it missed the target. The mine exploded 10 metres in front of the mini bus with 25 policemen on board,” Inspector General of Police (Bastar) A.N. Upadhyay told IANS.

“The blast created a huge crater on the road, and the flying stones smashed window panes of the vehicle, injuring the policemen,” the officer said.

The injured men were taken to a hospital in Narayanpur town, 18 km from the attack site. The cops were on the way back to the police station after a combing operation.

Officials here at police headquarters described it as a “miraculous escape” as the driver braked suddenly and the bus went into a roadside ditch.

“Policemen sitting in the back row of the vehicle opened fire on insurgents on both sides of the road who fled into nearby jungles,” said Pawan Deo, deputy inspector general (Maoist operations) at police headquarters.

Leftist radicals have killed nearly 1,100 people, including 726 civilians, since 2004 in the state.

The rebels had killed 12 paramilitary troopers men Oct 20, the first day for the filing of nomination papers for the assembly polls. The state goes for a two-phase poll Nov 14 and 20 to elect a new 90-member state assembly.

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