Police officer Sharad Shelar says the rebels triggered a land mine blast in the forested Gadchiroli area in Maharashtra state as the vehicle was passing through on Wednesday.
Confirming the death toll, Director General of Police, Maharashtra, Subodh Jaiswal told ET that 15 security personnel and a driver have been killed in the attack. The blast took place on the Kurkheda-Korchi road in Gadchiroli when a team of the C-60 commandos, an anti-Naxal unit, was patrolling the area.
The incident comes at a time when Maoists are observing a week-long protest to mark the first anniversary of 40 of their comrades who were killed by the security forces a year ago in two separate encounters.
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Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh has also condemned the incident stating that the attack on Maharashtra Police personnel in Gadchiroli is an act of cowardice and desperation. "I salute all the courageous personnel", Modi tweeted.
The Maoists are believed to be present in at least 20 Indian states but are most active in Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand - and Maharashtra. My thoughts & solidarity are with the bereaved families. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten. "Spoke to Maharashtra CM Shri @Dev_Fadnavis regarding the tragic incident in Gadchiroli and expressed my grief at the loss of fearless Police personnel".
"We are very firm in our belief that they need to be dealt with the full power of the state behind us".
The Naxal-infested neighbourhood had witnessed attack in April when the district had gone to the polls. He added the perpetrators will not be spared. "MHA is in constant touch with the state administration", he tweeted.
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The Gadchiroli-Chimur region had voted in the second phase of Lok Sabha election on April 28 and had recorded highest voting, at 71.58%.
Devendra Fadnavis, chief minister of Maharashtra and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ally of Modi, confirmed the attack on Twitter.
The Naxals also put banners and posters condemning the killings of their comrades previous year, before setting ablaze the vehicles.
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