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Rediff.com  » News » Soldiers recollect: When death came on bikes

Soldiers recollect: When death came on bikes

Last updated on: February 16, 2010 15:21 IST

When death came on bikes

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A day after the biggest-ever strike by Maoists against security forces in West Bengal left 24 jawans dead and a trail of devastation at an EFR camp in Shilda, West Bengal, their colleagues are yet to come to terms with the ferocity of the attack.

Bustling with activity 24 hours ago, the camp is now a pile of charred tents, cots and personal articles with blood spattered all over.

A visiting PTI correspondent saw a few dazed survivors loitering aimlessly inside the camp, in no mood to recollect the nightmare that they went through. Click on NEXT to read further...


Image: Bodies lie in the grounds of a police camp that was attacked by Maoist rebels
Photographs: Parth Sanyal/Reuters
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Maoists fired from sophisticated weapons

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"Please don't ask us anything," a jawan said. One of his colleagues, however, was somewhat forthcoming and agreed to give an account of the attack although on condition of anonymity.

Located inside the walled premises of a Primary Health Centre on an arterial road crossing, the camp could accommodate 48 jawans, but there were 36 when the assailants swooped down.

"They were around 100 and came on motorbikes. There were three vehicles as well, including a pick-up van. They first started hurling grenades into the camp and some tents caught fire. The sentries opened fire in self-defence, but the Maoists fired from sophisticated weapons as the area plunged into utter confusion," he said.


Image: A view shows the burnt remains of a police camp attacked by Maoist rebels
Photographs: Parth Sanyal/Reuters
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Firing went on for nearly half an hour

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Most of the jawans present at the camp when the attack was launched were killed in the firing that went on for nearly half an hour. Some of them could, however, escape by scaling the wall or through a wicket gate, he said.

Asked how the assailants could surprise the camp inmates, the jawan said his colleagues had just returned from patrol duty tired, while others were in a leisurely mood. Most of the inmates were wearing track suits or lungis as the evening meal was being cooked.

Following the initial assault, the attackers rushed inside the camp and set some tents ablaze, gutting the furniture and personal belongings of the jawans.


Image: A policeman holds a burnt weapon at a police camp attacked by Maoist rebels
Photographs: Parth Sanyal/Reuters
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The attack has generated a morbid fear

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The attack on the camp situated in this small market town has generated a morbid fear among the residents a large number of whom gathered outside the camp to take a look at the devastation.

A shopkeeper at the market said some of the shops outside the camp were also set afire by the ultras. "They came from two directions, but while leaving they fled towards Binpur," he said.

Senior police officers, including IG of Police  (Western Range), Kuldeep Singh, DIG of Police (Midnapore) Pijush Pandey and SP of West Midnapore district Manoj Verma reached the camp on Tuesday morning to take stock of the gruesome attack.


Image: A policeman carries his colleague's belongings at a police camp that was attacked by Maoist rebels
Photographs: Parth Sanyal/Reuters
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