Prime Minister Narendra Modi today condemned as "despicable" the Maoist attack in which 15 security men and a driver was killed in Maharashtra's Gadchiroli, and said those behind such violence would not be spared.
Maoists blew up a police vehicle in the district that borders Chhattisgarh.
The attack took place hours after Maoists set 25 vehicles on fire at a road construction site in Kurkheda of Gadchiroli district at around 3:30 am. They burnt the vehicles parked along the road using kerosene and diesel.
"Strongly condemn despicable attack on our security personnel in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra. Salute all brave personnel. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten. My thoughts & solidarity are with bereaved families. Perpetrators of such violence will not be spared," PM Modi tweeted.
Strongly condemn the despicable attack on our security personnel in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra. I salute all the brave personnel. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten. My thoughts & solidarity are with the bereaved families. The perpetrators of such violence will not be spared.- Chowkidar Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 1, 2019
Maharashtra senior police officer Subodh Jaiswal said it would not be right to term the attack as an intelligence failure. "It is a dastardly attack; we will try our best that such incidents are not repeated. Our people are present at the spot... We are prepared to give a befitting reply to this attack and operations are going on in the area to ensure that no further casualties take place," Mr Jaiswal told reporters this evening.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis about the incident. "We are providing all assistance needed by the state government. MHA is in constant touch with the state administration," he tweeted, condoling the deaths.
Over two weeks ago, another IED blast was set off near a polling booth in Gadchiroli on April 11, during the first phase of the national election. No one was injured in the incident. A day before that, a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) trooper was critically injured in an IED blast in Gadchiroli.
Today's Maoist attack comes on a day when Maharashtra is celebrating its foundation day. The Maoists were in the final stages of observing a week-long protest to mark the first anniversary of 40 of their members who were gunned down by security forces on April 22 last year.
In April last year, 39 Maoists were killed by the police in Maharashtra in one of the most successful operations in the state. The operation was planned by C-60 commandos of the Gadchiroli police based on specific intelligence about a meeting of top dalams or Maoist squads at a place where Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Telangana share a forested border.