Naxals hit bus, 35 cops & civilians killed

New Delhi/ Ranchi: At least 15 policemen and 20 civilians died when Maoists blew up a bus in a forested stretch in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada, the same district where they killed 76 security personnel over a month ago.
The bus flew about 20 feet in the air and toppled when the rebels reportedly detonated an improvised explosive device on a road linking Dantewada and Sukma towns, about 450 km south of state capital Raipur.
BLOWN: A TV grab of security personnel taking away the dead after the attack on Monday.
Casualties may increase as the bus was carrying around 50 people, including 25 Special Police Officers (SPOs) of the state government.

The bus was blown up at around 4.30 pm as it made its way on the Dantewada-Sukma Road in Dantewada district, about 450 km south of Raipur. TV channels showed damaged automatic weapons, obviously carried by the SPOs, lying besides the road and the severely damaged bus lying upturned.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, who denounced the attack as "barbaric", said the front portion of the bus was ripped apart. He said he would discuss thesecurity situation in Chhattisgarh with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Union Home Secretary G K Pillai said in New Delhi seven people injured in the attack had been admitted to a hospital. "Today we have seen the wanton disregard for life. The Maoists have blown up a civilian bus, where the majority of the passengers were tribals and innocent civilians. It so happened we had 15-20 SPOs also on that bus," said Pillai.
"This is a new dimension. I can only say that the targeting of civilians shows the Maoists are desperate."
Chhattisgarh Home Minister Nanki Ram Kanwar told CNN-IBN the commercial bus was carrying policemen and civilians, indicating that thesecurity personnel might have ignored instructions not to use such vehicles.
U K Bansal, Special Secretary for Internal Security in the Union Home Ministry, said the rebels clearly intended to target security personnel because they usually don’t attack civilian buses plying in that area.
The attack came a day before the Maoists’ call for a 48-hour bandh in five states, including Chhattisgarh, from Tuesday in protest against thesecurity operations launched against them by the Centre.
As many as 76 personnel of the paramilitary CRPF were gunned by Maoists in Dantewada in April. Dantewada is said to be the worst hit by the four-decades-old Maoist rebellion that has killed thousands of people and has been described by the government as the country’s gravest internalsecurity threat.
The place where the attack took place is part of the sprawling Bastar region, which is heavily forested and populated mainly by tribals, who are the mainstay of the Maoist movement.
(With inputs from CNN-IBN Correspondents, IANS and PTI. )