ucanews.com reporter, RaipurUpdated: March 11, 2014 10:12 PM GMT
Officials lay out the bodies of those killed in the Maoist attack (Photo: Salim Khan)
Maoist insurgents have killed 16 people in an attack on security forces in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, authorities said on Tuesday.
Eleven national paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force members died along with four state policemen in what was the deadliest attack on security forces this year, security officials said. A civilian was also killed.
The number of Maoist casualties was not given.
All the victims died when more than 300 rebels ambushed a patrol in a forest in the Bastar district, sparking a major gun battle, according to S. Karimuddin, a Maoist observer based in Bastar.
They planted improvised explosive devices and waited for the security forces to walk into their trap, he told ucanews.com.
Federal Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who visited Bastar on Wednesday, said the attack was aimed at disrupting general elections in the state scheduled for next month.
They will not succeed, he vowed.
“Maoists are trying to unleash terror aiming to disrupt the general elections. State elections in November last year were conducted smoothly despite threats from Maoists. The general election will also be held peacefully," he said.
"We will certainly fight back," Shinde said, adding that federal and state governments will intensify operations to flush out the rebels.
Tuesday’s attack comes less than a fortnight after Maoists ambushed and killed seven policemen providing security for workers building a road in the nearby Dantewada district.
The Maoists, described by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the country's most serious internal security threat, have been fighting a four-decade insurgency against the government to end what they call India’s “semi-feudal” form of rule.
It is believed the Maoists are active in some 200 of India’s 600 districts or in at least 20 states, including Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Maharashtra.