Search on for 31 policemen missing after Maoist attack in India
The bodies of four Indian policemen were found in a reservoir in eastern Orissa state on Monday as the search continued for 31 others who went missing after Maoist rebels attacked their motorboat, news reports said.
Rescue teams recovered the four bodies from the reservoir 24 hours after the rebels attacked the boat carrying over 60 personnel of the elite anti-Maoist Greyhound force, IANS news agency reported.
The men were returning to their base in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh state after a joint operation with the Orissa police when the rebels attacked their boat with heavy artillery, about 550 km south-west of Orissa's capital Bhubaneshwar.
The motorboat sank in the reservoir and is yet to be retrieved. Police officials said they feared the bodies of the missing policemen may be trapped in the vessel.
Ten helicopters of the army, navy and the state-run Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC), boats, divers and other rescuers were still searching in and around the Balimela reservoir in Orissa's southern Malkangiri district.
Police said 25 men, including 10 with bullet wounds, were rescued from the reservoir.
A senior Andhra Pradesh police official said at least 100 Maoist rebels attacked the vessel from the surrounding hills.
"As the forces were taking positions to retaliate, the boat tilted to one side and capsized," said Andhra Pradesh police chief SSP Yadav.
Andhra Pradesh Home Minister K Jana Reddy said the rebels used rockets, AK-47 rifles and light machine guns.
While search and rescue operations continued, hundreds of policemen combed the jungles along the Orissa-Andhra Pradesh border for the rebels.
The Greyhound Force is a police force set up to fight Maoist rebels in Orissa and the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh state, considered hotbeds of Maoist militancy in the country.
Maoist rebels, who claim to be fighting for the rural poor, tribal people and the landless, operate in 13 of India's 29 states. They usually target police and government installations.
Thousands of people, mostly police and paramilitary personnel and government officials, have been killed in the insurgency since the late 1960s, reported dpa.