Naxals attack Orissa jail, free prisoners, kill 3 cops

In a pre-dawn strike similar to the recent one in Jehanabad in Bihar, a group of over 200 armed Naxalites, including women, today attacked a sub-jail in R Udayagiri town of Gajapati district in Orissa, freed the prisoners, killed three policemen, and took a police officer and the jailor hostage, sources said.

There were 40 prisoners, including some Naxalites, in the jail, and barring one, all of them escaped, sources said. The ultras ''pulled down'' the jail gates to help them escape. The ultras also attacked the police station, an Orissa Special Armed Police (OSAP) Camp, the treasury, the tehsildar's office and a telecom tower, spreading terror. They shot dead three policemen and injured two others, district collector Binod Bihari Mohanty, who escaped by taking refuge inside a house, said over telephone. The three cops killed were identified as Havildar Prasanta Patnaik, sepoy Tuna Dehury, and sepoy Rajesh Ekka. Police claimed that three Naxalites, including a woman, were killed when police returned fire. The exchange lasted around two hours.

The two who were captured by ultras were the officer in charge of the police station Ranjan Kumar Mallick and the jailor of the sub-jail, Rabinarayan Sethi, officials said. Mohanty added that the ultras looted arms from the

police station. The Naxalites approached the town from two directions and retreated after the attack via Saralapadar into the deep jungles, carrying the bodies of their dead comrades. The Naxalites had disconnected telephone lines to most of the offices and disrupted power supply in the town.

Police started combing operations along the direction of retreat of the ultras. Superintendent of police, Gajapati, A N Sinha was on his way to the town with reinforcements, said the district collector. However, the entry points to town would have to be cleared as the Naxalites have blocked them by felling trees and pushing boulders on to the road. Reports also said the Naxals could have planted landmines on the road to R Udayagiri town.

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