Maoist rebels have ambushed a convoy in a restive central Indian state, killing two police officers and a journalist from the national broadcaster covering the lead up to local elections next month.
The cameraman was escorting police on a patrol in a remote stretch of Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh state, when their vehicles were attacked by armed men on Tuesday.
Police said the shooters were Maoists, also known as Naxals, who have been fighting against the Indian security forces in a forested belt of the country, dubbed the “red corridor” for decades.
“A sub-inspector, a constable and a cameraman have been killed,” Ratan Lal Dangi, a senior state police officer, told AFP news agency. Two others were injured in the attack.
Prasar Bharati parivar condoles the death of Cameraman Achyutananda Sahu earlier today near Dantewada in Chhatisgarh. Our prayers with his family during this difficult moment. pic.twitter.com/BQOMg4Jo04
— Prasar Bharati (@prasarbharati) October 30, 2018
The National broadcaster known as Doordarshan, confirmed one of its cameramen had been killed.
The state head of operations against the Maoists, P Sunder, said additional forces had been rushed to the scene.
“It is a developing situation and more forces are going to the spot. We will get more information about it once the team comes back,” the senior police officer told reporters.
Last week, Maoists were blamed for blowing up a military vehicle in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh that killed four soldiers.
Chhattisgarh, which goes to the assembly election in two phases on November 12 and November 20, has been governed by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for 15 years.
State Chief Minister Raman Singh, who is seeking a fourth term in the state polls, has blamed the Maoists for impeding development projects in the state.
The Maoists have urged voters to overthrow the BJP.
The shadowy rebels are believed to be present in at least a dozen states across India, but are most active in remote parts of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra.
Many regions where the Maoists are active are poor and lack access to critical services.
The rebels, who say they are fighting for the rights of tribal people and landless farmers, have often been accused of collecting funds through extortion.
The decades-old uprising is believed to have cost thousands of lives.
Critics say the government’s attempts to end the revolt through a no-holds-barred military offensive is doomed to fail.