Anti-landmine vehicle blown up; 17 policemen killed

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Bhubaneswar, Jul 16 (UNI) Maoists today blew up an anti-landmine vehicle, killing 17 policemen, including SOG jawans of the Orissa police, near MV126 village in Malkangiri district.

Superintendent of Police, Malkangiri, S K Gojbhiye said 14 bodies had been retrieved so far, while three were still missing.

Another vehicle carrying CRPF personnel, however, had a miraculous escape, he added.

Though earlier the toll was put at 20, later it was confirmed that the vehicle was carrying 17 personnel.

DIG (Operation) Arun Kumar Sharangi told UNI over phone that the team was returning after a combing operation in the Kalimela area when the incident took place.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik strongly condemned the killing and expressed profound grief to the bereaved family members.

Mr Patnaik announced that the kin of the deceased policeman would be given an ex-gratia of Rs four lakh besides the insurance cover of Rs ten lakh.

Meanwhile, in New Delhi, the Centre severely condemned the Maoist attack and was in touch with the state government after the incident.

Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta and Special Secretary (Internal Security) M L Kumawat had spoken to the Chief Secretary and other senior officials of the state government and assured of all possible help from the Centre, a Home Ministry spokesperson said.

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