BANKA/GAYA: Maoists blew up a school building in the Belhar block of Banka district in a dynamite attack early on Wednesday. The rebels later
engaged the security forces in a heavy exchange of fire at Barsudhi forest under Barachatti police station in Gaya district on Wednesday morning.
A police team, led by Banka superintendent of police P Kannan, raided the forests adjacent to the village, where the school building was situated, to nab the culprits. Police have not ruled out the connection between some local people and the Naxalites during such attacks.
The Naxalites had attacked two school buildings one old and the other new of a middle school at Gerua village in Banka district. The middle school is located at a remote place near the Belhar forest, about 15 kilometre from Belhar block. Sources said the area is adjacent to Jamui and Munger districts, which are said to be Maoist strongholds.
The old school building was completely destroyed in the blast whereas the new building suffered mild damages, said sources. Police have launched a hunt in the village and the jungle areas to arrest the culprits, said Kannan.
Gaya SP Sushil Khopde said police were informed about Naxalites gathering at a place to hold a training camp in the forest on the Bihar-Jharkhand border. Soon, a team, comprising district police, SAP (the special police force, comprising former army personnel and created to combat Naxalites) and CRPF men rushed to the forest area and challenged the Naxalites.
Khopde said police must have fired more than a hundred rounds during the exchange, which lasted for about one-and-a-half hours and that forced the Maoists to beat a retreat. He added that there were no reports of any casualty on either side and a combing operation was on.
This was the second time in 72 hours that the policemen and the Naxalites exchanged fire in the Barachatti PS area. A couple of days ago, too, the Naxalites and the police exchanged fire in the same area.
The Maoists seemed to have stepped up their activities on the Bihar-Jharkhand border. During the two-day Maoist bandh on October 12 and 13, the ultras took out torch-light processions, blew up mobile phone towers and burnt the effigies of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and home minister P Chidambaram. They also dug holes on the road to disrupt communication.