Four bodies found, search on for 31 missing cops (Roundup)June 30th, 2008 - 8:45 pm ICT by IANS
Visakhapatnam, June 30 (IANS) Bodies of four policemen were Monday found from a reservoir in Orissa near the Andhra border as the search continued for 31 policemen missing after Maoists attacked their motorboat Sunday. Making some progress, the rescue teams recovered the four bodies from the reservoir, 24 hours after the guerrillas carried out the bloodiest attack on the personnel of elite anti-Maoist force Greyhound who were returning from Orissa after a joint operation.
With no information about the missing policemen, officials and their family members fear the worst. The launch sunk in the Maoist attack is yet to be retrieved. Authorities fear the bodies might have stuck into it.
Ten helicopters of the army, navy and the Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC), boats, divers and other rescuers were still searching in and around the Balimela Balimela reservoir in Orissa’s Malkangiri district, close to Visakhapatnam district in north coastal Andhra.
The motorboat was carrying 64 policemen who were returning to Sileru in Andhra Pradesh after taking part in an anti-Maoist operation with the Orissa Police.
Police said 25 personnel, including 10 with bullet wounds, were rescued from the reservoir, which is located about 220 km from here.
Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy and Home Minister K. Jana Reddy, who called on three injured policemen at a hospital here, said the exact number of personnel on the boat was not known.
About 100 guerrillas belonging to the Communist Party of India-Maoist attacked the vessel from surrounding hills.
“As the forces were taking positions to retaliate, the boat tilted to one side and capsized,” said Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police S.S.P. Yadav.
In the first such attack, the guerrillas used rockets, AK-47 rifles and light machine guns, said the home minister.
Once the boat driver was killed in the gunfire, the boat became a sitting duck. The boat capsized in the heavy firing and many policemen jumped into the water.
Meanwhile, hundreds of policemen including the personnel of paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were moved to the Andhra-Orissa border for combing operations.
The chief minister announced Monday evening that he would appoint a senior officer to probe the incident.
He did not agree that intelligence failure led to the attack, but said the forces should be more careful while returning after coming operations.
“The senior inquiry officer will go into all aspects to find out how and why this happened and how can we prevent such incidents in future,” he said.
The surprise attack on the police was carried out by State Military Committee, which was constituted by the Andhra-Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee of the CPI-Maoist 10 days ago to intensify attacks on the Andhra-Orissa border, it is learnt.
The police forces of the two states launched combing operations following information that the guerrillas were holding training sessions in the region.
The Maoists were observing a protest week from June 26 against the “central government-led oppression and elimination methods” and the steep hike in prices of essential commodities.
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