Andhra Pradesh warns Maoists, efforts on to rescue policemen (Lead)

June 30th, 2008 - 8:32 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Hyderabad, June 30 (IANS) Jolted by the biggest attack on the elite anti-Maoist force Greyhound, the Andhra Pradesh government Monday warned the guerrillas that they would have to face consequences even as search was on to trace and rescue 35 policemen missing after Sunday’s ambush. Home Minister K. Jana Reddy told reporters in Visakhapatnam that the Maoists would have to pay heavily for the attack on the policemen. “The government has taken this attack very seriously,” he said.

The minister called on three critically injured policemen at the Seven Hills Hospital in the coastal city and held a meeting with top police officials to review the situation in the aftermath of Sunday’s attack.

As many as 35 policemen went missing after Maoists ambushed a launch carrying the policemen in neighbouring Orissa, close to the inter-state border. Police said 25 policemen, including nine with bullet wounds, swam to safety or were rescued.

The remaining were feared drowned as the launch capsized during the heavy firing. Unofficial reports said five policemen were killed in the attack.

The Indian Navy launched a rescue operation soon after the attack.

“We have deployed 15 divers and two Cheetah helicopters for the rescue mission. So far, 11 commandos have been rescued, and out of them the condition of 9 remains critical,” an Indian Navy spokesperson in New Delhi said.

Jana Reddy, however, said the search was on and details about any casualties would be available later Monday evening. He said helicopters of the Army, Navy and Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) were pressed into service for search operations.

Terming it as the biggest attack since the raising of the Greyhound special force, Jana Reddy confirmed that the Maoists used rocket launchers, AK47 rifles and light machine guns during the attack.

He said 300 personnel of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and other forces also rushed to the area for combing operations.

The home minister said intelligence machinery and information gathering system would be further strengthened. “We will also provide most sophisticated training to police personnel,” he said.

Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy said there was need for improving the coordination among states facing the Maoist violence. he later left for Visakhapatnam.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi spoke to the chief minister by telephone and condemned the Maoist attack. She asked him to take necessary steps for the treatment of the injured and render all assistance to the families of the victims.

The chief minister earlier chaired a meeting of the state cabinet, which condemned the Maoist attack and mourned the death of police personnel.

Information and Public Relations Minister Anam Ramnarayan Reddy told a news conference that the cabinet decided to allot 200 square yards of land for house sites in neighbouring Ranga Reddy district for the families of each of those killed in the attack.

This would be in addition to the compensation package already existing for police personnel killed in Maoist attacks. The kin of the slain personnel will be paid Rs.500,000 to Rs.1 million depending on the rank of the policeman killed, job to one member of the family and free education to their children.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |