Five days after gaining control of the key Lalgarh police station, the security forces on Friday launched a fresh offensive to drive out the Maoists from the area even as Naxals triggered a landmine blast in a bid to stall the movement of the troops.
The Central and state security forces started the operation at 0800 hours from Gaoltore, about 20 km from Lalgarh in West Midnapore district, and were moving towards Ramgarh after crossing Pingboni.
The forces, armed with mine detection gear, were taking control of Maoist-held forest areas and adjacent fields and planned to sanitise the stretch from Pingboni to Ramgarh, a distance of 11-12 km, IGP (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia said.
Even as the troops pushed ahead Maoists triggered a landmine blast near a forest at Kadasole, four km from Pingboni, after which gunshots were heard by a PTI correspondent in the conflict zone. No one was injured in the explosion.
Two landmines were found by the bomb disposal squad of the CID near a bridge next to a metalled road near Kadasole, police said, adding that efforts were on to defuse the them. The forces include units from CRPF and India Reserve Battalion besides personnel from the state police.
The joint forces had on June 20 taken control of the Lalgarh police station, which had remained out of bounds for the police since November last year.
Tribals, backed by Maoists, have been protesting against alleged police excesses on villagers after a landmine blast at Salboni, which West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and two Union ministers narrowly escaped on November two, last year.
The forces, since retaking control of Lalgarh police station, have been concentrating on fortifying their position with fresh reinforcements. Security personnel were stationed at Goaltore from where they intended give a final push to the ultras.