At least 15 C-60 Commandos have been killed after an IED exploded by Naxals in Maharashtra's Gadchiroli.
This attack comes hours after the Naxals allegedly set over three dozen private vehicles on fire on the Maharashtra- Chhattisgarh highway passing by the Kurkheda tehsil, Gadchiroli.
In April past year, India's security forces killed 37 suspected Maoist rebels in two separate gun battles in the region.
Those killed were members of the Quick Response Team (QRT) of Gadchiroli police, which were on the way to inspect the torched vehicles, an official said. "I salute all the courageous personnel", Modi tweeted.
The men were traveling in convoy to provide reinforcement to a police post in the Gadchiroli district when a landmine detonated, killing all 16 men, including the driver.
The explosion, condemned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi amid ongoing general elections, took place at about 11.30 pm on Maharashtra Day, nearly 10 hours after Maoists allegedly torched three dozen vehicles engaged in road widening and construction work in Gadchiroli's Kurkheda area. A gunfight is under way between the police and suspected Maoists at the site of blast, ANI reported.
Amid apprehensions that the toll could increase, Mungantiwar said that he had spoken with the concerned district and security agencies and would soon speak with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. On 11 April, an encounter broke out between CRPF personnel and Naxals in Gadchiroli. "We are providing all assistance needed by the state government. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten", Modi said on Twitter. "Ministry of home affairs is in constant touch with the state administration", Singh added.
Rao is also suspected to be behind nearly all the major Maoist attacks that have taken place in Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Odisha.
Gadchiroli voted in the first phase of national election on April 11. In January 2019, Naxals set ablaze vehicles in the villages of Kurkheda, Korchi and Potegaon in Maharashtra.