Bodies of all 38 securitymen killed in Maoist attack found (Lead, changing dateline)

July 12th, 2008 - 6:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar/Visakhapatnam, July 12 (IANS) The body of one more policeman of the elite Greyhounds force killed in an ambush by Maoists in Orissa last month was recovered Saturday, bringing the search operations to a close. With this, the bodies of all the 38 personnel killed in the attack have been recovered from the Balimela reservoir in Malkangiri district near the Andhra Pradesh border.

“Till yesterday (Friday), we had recovered 37 dead bodies. Today, the search team found another body,” district police chief Satish Gajbhiye told IANS.

The deceased policeman hailed from Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh.

The boat that was attacked last month was carrying 66 Greyhounds personnel who were returning to Andhra Pradesh after taking part in a joint anti-Maoist operation with the Orissa police. Twenty-eight policemen had swum ashore.

The Maoists ambushed the boat from the surrounding hillocks as it was crossing Balimela reservoir, 700 km from here and about 220 km from Visakhapatnam.

It was the worst-ever Maoist attack on Greyhounds force that was raised by Andhra Pradesh in 1989 to tackle the extremists.

Visakhapatnam police chief A. Sabharwal, who was camping near the reservoir for the last two weeks, has now returned to the district headquarters.

Police, however, said few teams were staying back to recover the missing weapons, while the police forces of both states were continuing anti-Maoist operations in the area.

Navy divers and search teams Tuesday hauled the boat out, two days after it was lifted off the reservoir bed with the help of three imported balloons. The boat, which was brought near the shore on Monday, was pulled out using heavy iron ropes and machines of private companies.

According to police, only five bodies had bullet wounds, which proves their theory that the majority of casualties were due to drowning. The boat tilted and sank when policemen had come to one side to return the fire.

Rescue teams had a tough time in recovering the bodies. The deep water level, intermittent rains and presence of crocodiles in the area added to their problems.

The bodies of the policemen were sent to their native places in Andhra Pradesh after an autopsy at a government-run hospital in Vishakhapatnam.

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