Search on for missing policemen in Orissa

June 30th, 2008 - 11:35 am ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, June 30 (IANS) A joint police team from Orissa and Andhra Pradesh Monday carried search operations to locate 35 policemen who went missing a day earlier after Maoist guerrillas attacked them. Hundreds of troopers of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Indian Navy and the anti-Maoist elite force Greyhound have been deployed to carry search and rescue operations, district police chief Satish Gajbhaye told IANS.

The heavily armed guerrillas Sunday attacked the police when they were crossing a reservoir in a motorboat in Orissa’s Malkangiri district, 700 km from here, bordering north coastal district of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

The motorboat was carrying 64 policemen, more than half of them from the Greyhound, returning to Sileru in Andhra Pradesh after anti-Maoist operations in Orissa.

The boat capsized during the heavy firing and many policemen jumped into the water, a police official quoting an eyewitness told IANS.

“Some injured policemen were inside the cabin when the boat capsized. Whether they have managed to escape or have died would be known after the boat is recovered,” the police officer said.

Unofficial reports said five policemen, including a sub-inspector, were killed in the attack. But director general of Andhra Pradesh Police S.S.P. Yadav did not confirm this. The police chief told newsmen in Visakhapatnam that 10 policemen were injured and 35 were missing after the attack.

The surprise attack on the police squad was carried out by State Militia Commission, which was recently constituted by the Communist Party of India-Maoist to intensify attacks on the Andhra Pradesh-Orissa border.

It is the biggest attack by guerrillas in the recent years and it has came after Maoists suffered several setbacks in Andhra Pradesh.

Maoists lost over 300 armed cadres, including several top leaders, during the last three years. The police had recently claimed that the Maoist movement was on wane in the state with operations against the rebels having achieved many successes.

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