Nayagarh Naxal attack toll rises to 15 ; IAF rush choppers

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Bhubaneswar, Feb 16 (UNI) With one more policeman succumbing, the toll in the Nayagarh Naxalite attack rose to 15 today even as the Indian Air Force (IAF) rushed helicopters to the area to track down the Naxals.

The IAF rushed its two Chetak choppers from Hyderabad, official sources said adding a task force, headed by an Air Commodore, had also been formed to monitor the ''mission'' and help the Orissa Government in this regard.

A massive search operation had been launched in the area to nab the naxals, sources said adding the IAF choppers would provide the air support to about 600 security personnel, who had already fanned out in the jungles to encounter the fleeing armed Naxals.

This was for the first time that IAF helicopters were being used in any anti-naxal operation in the country.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who airdashed to the small town this morning with state Home Secretary Tarun Kanti Mishra to assess the situation, announced an ex-gratia of Rs four lakh to the next kins of the slain policemen and Rs two lakh to the family member of the civilian.

This apart, the next of kin of the deceased police personnel would be paid Rs ten lakh as insurance coverage, he told the state Assembly, which witnessed a furore with the Opposition Congress disrupting the business of the House demanding his resignation over the incident.

Earlier, Mr Patnaik had a telephonic discussion with Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and requested him to send two units of the Greyhound police and IAF choppers in the combing operation.

The State Government had also sought assistance from Andhra Pradesh to encounter the fleeing Naxalites, surrounded by the police force this morning near Kupari hill bordering Phulbani district.

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