Maoists storm Bengal town, kill 2 cops

TNN 21 October 2009 KOLKATA/MIDNAPORE: Marking a new level of audacity in their attacks, armed Naxal guerrillas on Tuesday stormed a police station in West Midnapore mid-afternoon, killing two police officers and taking with them as hostage the station officer in-charge. The assailants, including some women combatants, took away arms and ammunition from the Sankrail police station and also looted Rs 9.23 lakh from a bank nearby. They left behind posters demanding the release of People's Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA) leader Chhatradhar Mahato and withdrawal of security forces from Lalgarh, a Maoist fortress in West Midnapore district that was recently captured after a prolonged military-style operation. Sources said about 45 guerrillas riding nearly 20-odd motorcycles roared into the town, led by Shekhar, one of the seniormost commanders in the Midnapore area that borders Jharkhand and Orissa. A woman commander, named by police sources as Tara, led the women who were part of the dalam. It were the women guerrillas who opened the attack. Wearing black masks, they stormed a bank around 2pm, firing their rifles in the air. The manager meekly handed over the keys to the vault to them as the cashier and other employees ran for their lives. Witnesses said the Naxalites spoke Hindi or broken-Bengali. Simultaneously, the men entered the police station and shot dead Dibakar Bhattacharya and Swapan Roy. The other personnel fled and the station in-charge, Atindranath Dutta, was dragged away at gunpoint. The Naxalites took six rifles and four revolvers from the police station and also three motorcycles parked outside. On the way out, they smashed the radio-transmitter, ripped out landlines and took mobiles to ensure no reinforcements are called in. They warned that bombs had been planted along the road leading to Sankrail. Maoist leader Koteshwar Rao alias Kishanji claimed responsibility for the strike. "The police officer is in our custody. He will be killed if any attempt is made by security forces to follow our comrades," he said in a statement later. Sources claimed the operation was carried out by a fresh action squad that has entered West Midnapore from Jharkhand or Orissa. The intention was to prove how ineffective security forces are in this Maoist-affected district. Courtesy: The Times of India
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