Chhattisgarh blast kills four; president 27 km away (Second Lead)

September 29th, 2008 - 11:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha PatilRaipur, Sep 29 (IANS) Four paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed Monday when their vehicle was blown up in a landmine blast in Chhattisgarh’s Maoist stronghold of Bastar while President Pratibha Patil and the top brass of the state were at the Chitrakote waterfall, 27 km away. Patil condemned the incident and said the nation will remember the CRPF troopers’ sacrifices.

The deputy commandant of the 41st battalion of the CRPF, Diwakar Mahapatra, was amongst the four killed when his Bolero SUV was blasted near the Mardum area, 340 km from here. The three troopers injured in the blast are said to be in a critical in a Jagdalpur hospital.

“Insurgents blew up the Bolero vehicle at about 12 noon in a forested area near Mardum in Bastar. The driver and a CRPF deputy commandant were killed on the spot and two succumbed to their injuries in the hospital,” Girdhari Nayak, chief of the state’s anti-Maoist operations, told IANS.

Reinforcements have rushed the blast site.

President Patil reached Bastar at 9.45 a.m. in an Indian Air Force plane with her husband Devisingh Patil, state Governor E.S.L Narasimhan, Chief Minister Raman Singh and Chief Secretary P. Joy Oommen to visit the famous Chitrakote waterfall.

The president returned to Raipur in the afternoon. At the golden jubilee function of a girls’ college late in the evening, she condemned the blast in her speech.

“A deputy commandant and three constables of CRPF were killed today. I condemn this incident. The nation will remember their sacrifice,” Patil said at the end of her 15-minute speech.

Insurgents chose to trigger the blast on the day the president was in Bastar “to show how strong they are in Chhattisgarh”, a police official said.

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