Policemen missing after Maoist attack still untraced (Lead, changing dateline)

July 1st, 2008 - 10:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, July 1 (IANS) Over 1,000 security men Tuesday searched a reservoir in Orissa’s Malkangiri district and its nearby areas but failed to trace any of the policemen missing after Maoist rebels ambushed their motor-launch two days ago. “We could not locate the vessel. We also could not locate any missing policeman today (Tuesday),” Sanjib Panda, deputy inspector general of police, told IANS.

During the search, the security men found some weapons, including one Insas rifle, one SLR gun, one light machine gun (LMG) and one AK-47 from the area, he said.

“The search operation will continue tomorrow (Wednesday) and let us hope for the best,” he said.

The motor-launch carrying the policemen sank Sunday in the Balimela reservoir, some 700 km from here, following an attack by Maoist guerrillas.

The policemen, majority of them from the elite Greyhound force, were returning to Andhra Pradesh after taking part in an anti-Maoist operation with the Orissa police for the past few days.

The rebels rained bullets on them when the vessel was passing through a narrow waterway in the reservoir.

Orissa’s Director General of Police Gopal Chandra Nanda said there were 66 people on board the vessel that capsized in the reservoir.

Of them, 61 security personnel were from Andhra Pradesh, two were Orissa police constables and three were employees of the vessel.

Only 29 have been accounted for, including two boat employees and the two Orissa constables, an official said.

“The body of only one Greyhound commando has been recovered Monday from the area. His hands were tied and he had bullet injuries. Thirty-six people are still missing,” Panda told IANS.

Of the survivors, 10 have bullet wounds and are undergoing treatment, he said.

“The depth of the water in the reservoir where the vessel capsized is over 80 feet and we have been unable to spot the vessel,” Panda said, adding that some policemen were inside the cabin when the boat capsized and are missing.

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