Nine killed, four abducted in Jharkhand Maoist attacks on poll day (Third Lead)

Ranchi, April 16 (Inditop) Maoists abducted four polling officials and killed nine people in a landmine blast Thursday in Latehar district of Jharkhand as the rebels went on a spree of violence to disrupt the first phase of elections, police said.

According to police, four officials who were overseeing the elections at Hata polling booth, around 140 km from here, were abducted by the Maoists.

Rebels have reportedly taken the abducted officials to a thickly forested area of the district. They also took away the electronic voting machines from the polling station, police said.

Earlier Thursday, nine people, including seven Border Security Force (BSF) troopers, were killed near Arah village of Lathear district in a landmine blast triggered by the rebels.

“Seven BSF personnel were killed in a landmine blast in a jungle near Aara village. Police officials have rushed there to assess the situation,” Sarvendu Taghagat, Latehar district deputy commissioner, told IANS by phone.

The driver and his assistant were also killed, Jharkhand police spokesman S.N. Pradhan told IANS here.

Maoist rebels detonated the landmine when the BSF personnel were travelling in a bus to a polling station near Aara village, about 140 km from here.

After the landmine blast, the guerrillas ambushed the bus. A gunbattle followed between the rebels and security forces.

Two more gunbattles between security forces and Maoists have been reported in Khuti and Palamau districts, Pradhan added.

The police spokesman said polling has been disrupted in seven other places in Palamau and Chatra districts as Maoists attacked the polling stations. In Khuti district, villagers disrupted polling in one booth.

On Monday, Maoist rebels had ambushed a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) bus in the same district, killing two security personnel and the bus driver. Five Maoist rebels were also killed in the ensuing gunbattle.

Polling began in six Lok Sabha seats of the state Thursday morning. It is scheduled in eight more seats April 23.