Four killed in Chhattisgarh blast, president 27 km away (Lead)

September 29th, 2008 - 6:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha PatilRaipur, Sep 29 (IANS) Four 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. The deputy commandant of the 41st battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force, Diwakar Mahapatra, was amongst the four killed when his Bolero SUV was blasted near the Mardum area, 340 km from here. The three other people injured, admitted to a Jagdalpur hospital, are said to be in a critical condition.

“Insurgents blew up a 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 the thickly forested blast site.

President Patil reached Bastar at 9.45 a.m. in an Indian Air Force plane with her husband Devisingh Patil, 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. She is scheduled to attend the golden jubilee function of a girls’ college later in the evening.

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

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