Raipur: A BJP MLA and four security personnel were killed in Chhattisgarh as Naxals blew up their vehicle Tuesday, two days before polling for the first phase of Lok Sabha elections is held in the state, police said.
MLA Bheema Mandavi and the four others were killed as Naxals targeted a group of BJP leaders travelling in a convoy in Dantewada district, police said.
Visuals from the blast site showed the mangled remains of the vehicle and a gaping hole on the road on which it passed before Naxals blew it up.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has spoken to the DG anti-Naxal operations.
Former Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh said, "I am in contact with Central ministers and spoke to PM Narendra Modi an hour ago. I will go to Dantewada and meet families of the deceased."
The incident occurred at Shyamagiri hills when the MLA's convoy was heading towards Kuwakonda from Bacheli area, about 450 km from state capital Raipur.
The BJP convoy was travelling between Kuakonta and Shyamgiri in Dantewada when it was targeted by the Naxals.
The Naxals blew up a vehicle in the convoy with an IED and opened fire at the occupants, police said.
Mandavi was killed in the attack, P Sundar Raj, DIG anti-Naxal operations, said. The four security personnel were also killed in the attack, police said.
Security forces have been rushed to the area, they said.
TV channels flashed grisly images of body parts strewn along a road bisecting a forest and a vehicle reduced to a heap of metal. The powerful blast left a big crater in the middle of the road.
In a statement, CRPF said, "Between Kuakonta and Syamgiri in Dantewada, the convoy of BJP MLA Bheema Mandavi came under an IED attack today. The escort vehicle of State Police came under the blast. 5 personnel of Chhattisgarh State Police are critically injured. Reinforcement of CRPF has been rushed."
Dantewada falls in the Bastar Lok Sabha constituency, which will go to polls in the first phase on April 11.
For the elections on April 11, a security blanket of over 80,000 personnel, and drones, has been deputed in and around the Naxal-infested Bastar region.
Four Border Security Force (BSF) personnel was killed while two others injured in an encounter with Naxals in Kanker district on Thursday.
Ahead of the Assembly elections in May 2013 in the Naxal hotbed of Bastar, 27 people, including senior Congress leader Mahendra Karma and former Union minister V C Shukla, were killed in the ambush. PTI