Three Chhattisgarh special police officers found killed (Lead)

June 19th, 2008 - 11:40 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Raipur, June 19 (IANS) Police search teams Thursday found three bullet-ridden bodies of special police officers (SPOs), missing since a Maoist attack a day earlier, in a thick forested area in Chhattisgarh’s southern Bastar region. The five others missing safely returned to a police base. A constable was killed and eight SPOs went missing Wednesday after heavily armed Maoist guerrillas ambushed a police team sent to open a road at a dense forest in Dantewada district, close to the Andhra Pradesh border, about 500 km south of state capital Raipur.

The road-opening team led by Chhattisgarh police constable Dashruram Bhogami were on foot when armed insurgents, who were waiting atop a hill, opened fire on it. Bhogami, who received gun shots on his chest and leg, was killed on the spot.

“The police teams that were sent to Konta forested belt of Dantewada to search the missing men, located three bullet-ridden bodies of the SPOs, some 2 km away at a forest stretch from the attack site,” S.I. Baghel, additional superintendent of police of Dantewada, told IANS.

“Insurgents have also made off with their arms but luckily the other five missing SPOs returned to a nearest police base unhurt,” the officer added.

The Chhattisgarh government has recruited about 4,500 local youths, mostly the tribals, in insurgency-hit Bastar region on a monthly remuneration of Rs.1,500 to team up with the police force to dismantle the Maoists’ terror network at village level.

Maoists, who claim to fight for poor peasants and labourers, frequently attack the police, government buildings and politicians and call for shutdowns. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently termed the Maoist insurgency the biggest security challenge facing the country.

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